CHOCTAW — Just minutes after Choctaw Mayor Randy Ross performed the ceremonial tapping of the keg, Mike Turek placed his stein under the spigot and filled it with a frothy German beer.
Before the foamy head had a chance to settle, he raised the mug above his head, made a toast and led the appreciative crowd at the Choctaw Oktoberfest in singing “Ein Prosit,” the Bavarian cheer that ushers in every Oktoberfest in Munich.
The Friday ceremony marked the 22nd time Turek has presided over the celebration that serves up large portions of German food, authentic German beer and lively German music.
Turek and his family, owners of Old Germany Restaurant, held the inaugural festival in 1991 behind their business at SE 29 and S Indian Meridian Road. About 1,500 people attended, choosing food from a limited menu and drink from an even smaller selection of beers.
This week, Turek is expecting 50,000 guests, and he promises they will have plenty to eat and drink.
Attracting visitors from across the country, Oktoberfest was expanded this year into a nine-day event. Five years ago, organizers relocated to a more spacious venue with plenty of free parking at Choctaw Creek Park, on the west side of Harper Road between NE 10 and NE 23. This year's festival continues daily through Sept. 8.
Food, music, beer
Workers have gathered the past few weeks to peel and slice 6,000 potatoes that will be turned into 5,000 pounds of potato salad. Turek ordered 1,600 pounds of ham hocks and 3,000 pounds of bratwurst.