06 Oct Greencastle’s 4th Annual Oktoberfest to Showcase Wasser Brewing and More on Oct. 7th
I am not a Catholic. I know about the religion because I’ve taught British literature to high school kids for two decades. I know the part of the story when the Catholics used to set the Protestants on fire. And I know the bit that follows, when Henry VIII changed the rules, and the Protestants started beheading Catholics. But all of that was sooooo Renaissance. Today, when people of different faiths congregate…say, for example, in a church parking lot on a fall Saturday night, they don’t reach for their torches and axes…they hand each other beers.
Such a Saturday night will go down this weekend when Greencastle’s St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church hosts its fourth-annual Oktoberfest. This year the event will showcase Wasser Brewing Company’s locally created Oktoberfest. Supporting it will be the Sam Adams iteration, and for the lightweights in family, the church will offer the 3% variety of Miller, Coors, and A-B infamy. You could argue that setting one local craft beer on the counter does not make a craft beer event. And you would be correct. But I’m not attending because I want to go to a craft beer event. I’m going for something more intangible than that.
The festival was born out of a local parish picnic which often functioned as both a lunch and dinner celebration. Eventually, the local Knights of Columbus chapter concocted the idea of expanding the tradition into something more community-based.
“Of course we want it to bring our parish together,” said organizer Matt Welker. “For many of us this is a kind of homecoming, bringing back college students and adults who have moved away from the parish. But we aren’t content to leave it at that. We also consider this an open invitation to the community to join us. And this has grown into a tremendous fundraiser allowing us to offer support to local organizations.”
Some of those beneficiaries include Greencastle’s Beyond Homeless shelter, the Putnam County Care Net Pregnancy Center, Terre Haute’s Gibault School for Boys, the Boy Scouts, and the Little Sisters of the Poor.
When I attended the first event in 2013, it filled up a quarter of the church’s lot. It offered a couple sandwich options, threw together some creatively homemade games, and the craft beer had run out by sunset. By the third year, the beer options were plentiful, the food options more so, and the games…? I found myself addicted to the three-card poker, and if I hadn’t gone all-in on those 3 jacks at 9:30, I would probably still be there, waiting for the crew set up this year’s party around me.
This year the festivities will kick off at 4:00 p.m. with a performance by DePauw University’s German Brass Quintet, and will end at 11:00 p.m. with a rock-and-roll set performed by the MacDaddys, a popular Terre Haute trio featuring the talents of drummer/singer David Hunt. The festival will also feature a bounce-house, face-painting, and other kid-friendly activities, while adults can enjoy a range of contests from the aforementioned poker stand to bingo and more.
None of that, however, is the reason I always go. I can put all the beer I want in my basement fridge, and I can play all the games I want on my iPad sitting next to my golden-doodle. What I can’t get at home are the friendships. Nothing beats hanging out with a group of likeable friendly people over a cold beer enjoying the camaraderie and good times. And there’s something especially appealing about the notion that I can walk my Protestant bones onto that lot and not only feel welcomed, but feel invited as well. It’s enough to make me think that if Henry VIII and Thomas More had sat down with a pint in one hand and bingo-card in the other, they would have hugged and made up. If that’s too hyperbolic, then let me try this one: of all the community events I’ve attended, this one has become my favorite.