Oktoberfest is ramping up to be bigger and better than last year

If you don’t know what a Eurobungee is, then you must have missed the inaugural Lake Highlands Oktoberfest last year.

Oktoberfest is the brainchild of Exchange Club members Tate Gorman and Adam Meierhofer. (Meierhofer is also our new LH school board representative.) The two guys have a history that goes back before they became LH residents — they were actually roommates at Austin College in Sherman (“Go fighting Kangaroos!” Meierhofer says ). Attracted by LH schools and the community, Meierhofer moved here first, and Gorman followed him. Gorman joined the Exchange Club first, and soon after Meierhofer joined, too. Both families have young children in RISD elementary schools.

The club, which sponsors scholarships and other local causes, was looking for a new way to raise funds that would supplement their yearly auction and dinner each spring.

“We knew we wanted to do something outside,” Meierhofer says. “Something that would be family oriented and fun.”

As it happens, some of the best weather in Dallas occurs in October, and when it comes to enthusiasm for beer and sausage, you can hardly tell the difference between a Texan and a German. On top of that, the brand new Watercrest Park at the Lake Highlands Town Center seemed to be begging for a big party.

There are no official numbers for last year’s attendance, but judging by the amount of food served and money collected for parking, Meierhofer estimates between 5,000 and 6,000 people attended the event. This year, he anticipates that number could double. Vendors such as Franconia Breweries, Kuby’s (sausage and wurst), The Grape (smoked pork), and Urban Crust (pizza) are ramping up to feed the multitude.

Kid Zone activities will include bounce houses, an obstacle course and a petting zoo. Teens and adults will enjoy Bubble Runners (a kind of human hamster run) and the previously mentioned Eurobungee, which combines the height of a bungee cord with the bounce of a trampoline.

For patrons who prefer beer or Riesling to adrenaline, there is always the Biergarten, where TVs will be set to sports channels. Two polka bands and a Bavarian dance group will perform during the day, in rotation with local favorites like the LHHS cheerleaders and the Wranglers.

There will even be Oktoberfest After Dark — an extra few hours when the Kid Zone games will close down and the focus will move to music on the big stage.

The Eurobungee obviously excites me, but what excites me even more is how this Oktoberfest blends the new and the old in Lake Highlands. For years we have been craving more neighborhood activities, eateries and destinations within our boundaries that make it worth getting on a bike or strapping the kids into strollers and car seats.

Oktoberfest is possible only because of some recent changes:

• Watercrest Park at the Town Center site is a result of City of Dallas TIF incentives, and Prescott Realty’s determination to make the Town Center a reality;

• Before the change in wet-dry laws, we couldn’t have had an Oktoberfest with beer;

• The organizers publicize the event outside of Lake Highlands, which attracts visitors who haven’t had any reason to come here before (attention, Realtors);

• We even have a DART rail station at the site, which will be an additional way to welcome visitors and make them aware of our future Town Center.

Speaking of change, Watercrest Park won’t be an isolated greenway for much longer. Construction has begun on a five- story retail-apartment complex that will change the landscape. Kids who go to Oktoberfest this year will have fun remembering how the park looked before all the Town Center buildings were there.

This fall, we’re straddling the past and the future of Lake Highlands. That’s way more exciting than a Eurobungee.

 

The second annual LH Oktoberfest is scheduled for 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Lake Highlands Town Center, Walnut Hill and Skillman. Attendance is free, but proceeds from the parking charge ($5 per car) will benefit the Exchange Club’s causes. Organizers encourage attendees to bring blankets and chairs, but not pets. Entertainment will be paid for with tickets; an ATM trailer will be on-site. Visit lhoktoberfest.com for more details.