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Oktoberfest looks to continue growth

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -

This year’s Oktoberfest uptown could be the biggest ever, according to Martinsville Uptown, which has organized it during the past three years.

The street festival, now in its 34th year, will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday along Church, Main, Bridge and Lester streets. Admission is free.

More than 230 vendors will be selling arts and crafts, jewelry, holiday items and home accessories, as well as a variety of American, German, Turkish and Mexican foods and carnival-style treats such as cotton candy, funnel cakes and snow cones, said Martinsville Uptown Executive Director Liz Secrest.

Samuel Adams and Lawrence Distributing will sponsor a craft beer garden in the Bridge Street parking lot.

Participating vendors will be from five states, Secrest said.

This will be the biggest Oktoberfest that she can remember, she said.

As of last week, though, a few vendor spaces still were available. Anyone interested in a space can call Martinsville Uptown at 632-5688.

Children will be entertained with activities such as inflatables, face-painting and Infinity Acres’ petting zoo.

The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA will sponsor a haunted house on the second floor of 33 E. Church St.

Numerous entertainers will perform at a stage in the Broad Street parking lot. The line-up includes:

• 11 a.m. — The Boys and Girls Club Steel Drum Band

• 1 p.m. — Strong Hold, a group from Danville

• 2 p.m. — Martinsville High School Jazz Band

• 3 p.m. — The Triad Highlanders, who will march up Church Street

• 4 p.m. — A talent show sponsored by Mtn Jax Pub & Restaurant.

Contestants for the talent show were selected by Martinsville Uptown’s Facebook fans. The winner will receive $250 courtesy of the restaurant, according to Secrest.

In addition, many uptown merchants will have displays of merchandise along their streets, including ones that have not done so in the past, Secrest said.

“Many businesses tell us this (festival) is their high-dollar day for the entire year,” she said.

Others have reported making repeat customers from ones who visited them for the first time while attending Oktoberfests, she added.

Oktoberfest is getting more popular each year, Secrest said. Attendance last year was about 12,000 people and that was up by as much as 2,000 from the previous year, she said.

Secrest estimated that at least 30 percent of festival-goers last year were from outside Martinsville-Henry County. She credited advertising the festival outside the community for helping “put Martinsville on the map.”

The increasing attendance prompted Martinsville Uptown to add an extra hour to the festival this year, Secrest said.

“Over time,” she said, “we’d love to see it grow into a weekend festival” instead of a one-day event.

Visitors seem to like what they see.

“We usually hear way more positive (comments) than we do negative” ones, Secrest said. “We’re lucky.”

Oktoberfest 2013 is sponsored by Samuel Adams, Lawrence Distributing, Bassett Mirror, Hooker Furniture, Subway and Bassett Furniture.

Reserved parking for disabled people’s cars will be in the farmer’s market parking lot at the corner of West Church and Moss streets.

 

 
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