Parish to recreate German village storefront at Appleton’s Oktoberfest

COMBINED LOCKS — Celebrating Oktoberfest this year has become a community affair for parishioners and friends of St. Paul Parish. On Saturday, Sept. 29, it will be hosting a booth at Appleton’s Oktoberfest – a project that has been several years in the making.

“The main goal is to provide family fun at an affordable price,” said JoAnne Budi, one of the organizers. The festive booth recreates a German village with red peaked canopies and a German storefront façade featuring a men’s and women’s booth.

Members of St. Paul Parish in Combined Locks and Knights of Columbus members work together to erect a German food tent outside the church Sept. 16 in preparation for a food-selling display at Appleton’s Oktoberfest on Sept. 29. The booth will be located on the north side of College Avenue between Morrison and Durkee streets. (Brad Birkholz | For The Compass)

The Oktoberfest idea grew out of a simple porky pancake breakfast that the Knights of Columbus started about four years ago. “Our pastor wanted to start a Knights of Columbus Council,” said Dennis Budi, who became the first Grand Knight. A year later, the women of the parish started Mary’s Girls. Both groups are dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.

The men’s booth, hosted by the Knights of Columbus Council 16217, is called “Ritterhaus,” German for “Knight’s House.” The women’s booth, hosted by Mary’s Girls, is “Madchen Kuche” or “Girls’ Kitchen” in German.

The menu for Oktoberfest includes 10-inch custom German brats and 8-inch custom German frankfurters made by a Knight from Greenville who owns The Meat Block. He hired a German consultant to lecture on German cuisine and provided authentic German recipes. There will be schwineschnitzel (pork schnitzel), sauerkraut balls, red cabbage, spaetzle and Pomme Fritz. The latter two have been imported from Germany for the event. Pomme Fritz is a German spice that is put on potato fries in Germany.

The women’s booth will offer pretzels and homemade desserts, including cherry and apple strudel, German print cookies, peppernuts and sauerkraut cookies. Sprecher gourmet sodas in four flavors will also be available, along with water. All the profits from the water sales will be donated to the digging of a well for a children’s center in Mozambique, which is for orphans of parents who have died from HIV. The water project is a pet project of some of the Knights.

According to the Budis, the porky pancake breakfasts were intended to teach about the meaning of “first Saturday” devotions, a practice of receiving Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays, receiving the sacrament of penance, reciting five decades of the rosary and making a 15-minute meditation on one of the mysteries of the rosary. As word got out, the breakfasts drew people from neighboring parishes, many of whom became regular volunteers.

The event became known as POTSAFS – Pancakes on the Sundays After First Saturdays. The breakfast evolved into a buffet that now features homemade buttermilk pancakes, sausages, hash browns, three-cheese scrambled eggs, fruit sauce, maraschino cherries, whipped cream, sprinkles, fresh fruit, cinnamon rolls, a sweet specialty of the month, an omelet bar and beverages.

In an effort to keep it family-friendly and affordable, the cost is $17 per family, $7 for adults, $3 for ages 5 to 18, and children under 5 eat free. “The point is to create an environment in the Catholic Church that welcomes families, lets children and young adults meet each other and doesn’t cost a fortune,” JoAnne said. “We want the church to be about that and not all about making money.”

The buffets do net a profit, which goes toward faith formation materials and landscape maintenance, especially the parish’s cut-flower perennial garden/bulb garden to provide flowers for the altar. Profits from the Oktoberfest booth will also go to these activities.

Keeping the family focus in mind, the Oktoberfest booth is holding down prices. “Nothing in the booth costs more than $5, so families can afford to feed their children,” JoAnne said. Pork schnitzel is $5; brats are $4; wieners are $3. At Mary’s Girls booth, a pretzel is $4, strudel $2 and cookies $1. Water is $1.

The women of Mary’s Girls gathered last Sunday at the church to make cookies. “I’m trying to make edible strudel,” JoAnne added with a hearty laugh.

Dennis said he “sees God’s hand” in many ways as this project came about. The Budis give credit to many people and businesses that graciously stepped forward to extend professional expertise and financial help through donations and discounts.

Greg Wallace of Homestead Trees built the system that supports the inside of the canopy. Fred Seidl Jr., owner of Twins Electric, offered the electrical work and cords. Larry Schmidt, a welder by trade, took a farm implement and created weighted stands so the booth can withstand a windy day. Brian Cupp, an organizer of Country USA and Rock USA, provided the parish with cooking equipment. In addition, Luke Jacobs of Jacobs Meats provides the meat for the pancake breakfasts.

More stories flow, as the Budis relate how online searches led them to businesses in Germany that got involved, helping with recipes and products.

“It starts with an idea and prayer and all of sudden people are behind it,” JoAnne said.