Fall Festivities Bring Community Members Together

By Amanda Joerndt

The Boardman Rotary celebrated the 42nd annual Oktoberfest bringing the community together with over 160 arts and craft vendors, 19 food vendors and local entertainment.

The Oktoberfest gives local businesses the chance to expand their business and make new connections with people from different areas.

The event started in 1976 as a community day in Boardman Park to promote Boardman and the residents of the township.

The Boardman Rotary club hosts the event each year with the proceeds benefiting local community projects and charities such as Easter Seals and Boys and Girls Club.

Shelly LaBerto and Shannon Tirone, Boardman Rotary co-chairs for the Oktoberfest, reached out to different organizations to help make the event possible.

LaBerto said different high school organizations volunteer their time to make the event run smoothly.

“We’ve incorporated the emerging leaders from Boardman High School, the Cardinal Mooney speech team and the Struthers Rotary Club helping in the food court, so we are pulling in quite a few organizations,” she said.

Photo by Amanda Joerndt/The Jambar

Tirone said it’s nice to be able to watch families come together and there’s something for everyone at the Oktoberfest.

“It’s interesting because it’s like the entire female family has come together and they put it on their calendar and wait to come shop at this event each year,” Tirone said. “The nice thing is, we’ve got a lot of guys who are able to come out and eat too.”

Giving business owners a chance to sell their product and expand their business is a benefit for many vendors.

Andrea Reiser, owner of Pastries by Andrea, has been attending the Oktoberfest since she started  her business nine years ago.

Pastries by Andrea sells baked goods such as Old World pastries, kolache (nut roll), baklava and Lady Locks (cream horns).

Reiser said the Oktoberfest has helped her business immensely, which keeps her coming back each year.

“What the Oktoberfest does is it gives me an opportunity to let my Youngstown customers know that I’m at the Southern Park Mall the Saturday before any major holiday,” Resier said. “It really helps me get word out into the community about my product.”

Reiser said she loves to come watch the entertainment such as the Boardman Band and to be around positive people while raising funds for different organizations.

The Oktoberfest has expanded to the largest arts and crafts event bringing in vendors from all over the Northeast Ohio region.

The event also helps new and upcoming vendors get their business off on the right foot.

Harry Watkins, owner of Harry’s Honey Pot, experienced his first Oktoberfest this year.

He started his business through being a beekeeper for the bees in his garden and now has over 60 hives.

While selling honey, he also sells other products such as lotion, sugar scrubs, beard oils and beeswax candles.

Watkins said bringing his business at the Oktoberfest has helped him make new connections.

“I like meeting and talking to the people,” he said. “I love explaining the bee keeping and teaching people what I do and hope its a beneficial product for them.”

Watkins said his display of products draws people in and makes them want to know more about their product.

“Our success has been very good and we get a lot of interest. People love our displays and we have a very wide selection of products,” he said.

The Oktoberfest expands each year with more vendors coming to reach new audiences and help raise funds for community projects through the Boardman Rotary Club.