Saturday might be the only day of the year people in Martinsville won’t question why folks are walking around uptown with steins in their hands.

In a celebration of German culture the streets will come alive with vendors, activities and, of course, beer for the city’s 40th annual Oktoberfest.

During the past four decades, the event has grown into a community tradition.

“It’s been going on for so many years. This is the 40th annual, so I think that helps,” said Kimberly Keller, Martinsville Uptown’s entrepreneurial development manager. “It’s something that people look forward to every year.

“We’ve really tried to play up the festival. We’ve done a lot of promoting. We’ve tried to attract some additional vendors. We really hope that this year we can get a really large number of attendees at the festival.”

With people coming from Martinsville and Henry County, as far west as Patrick County, as far east as Danville, as far north as Roanoke and as far south as Greensboro, N.C., Keller said she hopes that this year’s event will bring in even more than the 8,000 people they’re expecting.

“It’s just such a fun event with so much to offer,” Keller said. “You can go there and start your Christmas shopping if you want to. You can shop with our different vendors. There’s really something for everyone. There’s something for the children. There’s food. You can grab a drink and just kind of mingle uptown.”

Keller noted that although the festival typically tries to have at least 200 vendors, there are slightly more booths this year than in years past. There will be 210 vendors — renting 225 booths — lining the streets.

To be sure, one of the most popular sections of Oktoberfest, historically, is the beer garden. This year, there will be multiple options available for each taste.

Richmond-based Legend Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest beer will be on draft, as will Nellysford’s Bold Rock Hard Cider and Michelob Ultra.

Additional bottled beverages include Budweiser Copper Lager and Bold Rock Cider Harvest Haze.

“There will be some authentic Oktoberfest beers — and for the people who don’t really care for that, we’ll have some regular beers,” Keller said.

Even though this is a German- inspired festival, shoppers can expect to find goods from a variety of different regions. There will be jewelry, handmade artisan wares, home décor items, seasonal decorations, art and more available for purchase.

“We’ve got some vendors selling authentic Mexican crafts,” Keller said.

There also is no shortage of diversity in the foods available at Oktoberfest.

“It attracts many different vendors. It’s a wide variety,” Keller said. “You can find everything from German food to traditional fare or festival food.”

This year, there will be cheesesteaks, burgers, hot dogs, French fries, funnel cakes and more.

“You don’t even have to leave the festival loop to get your food,” Keller said. “Any kind of food you want, we most likely have it.”

Families often head over to a section of the event filled with constant laughter and joy, a special area created with the youngest participants of Oktoberfest in mind.

“There are bounce houses and children’s rides,” Keller said. “Of course, some of our vendors will be there doing children’s activities, like face painting. We will have one vendor here doing a pumpkin-decorating booth. There are a lot of different things that the children can do.”

Setting the mood for the event, a deejay will keep the good times rolling with a mix of lively tunes.

“We will have a rocking deejay. A lot of times there are people that like the authentic Oktoberfest music, but they don’t want to listen to it for five hours,” Keller said. “We thought with the deejay, we could have the best of both worlds. We could have authentic Oktoberfest music and more modern music.”

In addition to the deejay, Southern Virginia’s country station B99.9 will be on site playing the latest hits.

“We hope that a large number of Martinsville-Henry Country, as well as residents from surrounding areas, come and enjoy the festival uptown,” Keller said. “Come see what all uptown has to offer.”{/div}

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