WEST ALEXANDRIA — The 50th Annual Kiwanis Oktoberfest paid homage to the past by recognizing past queens and the man who helped start it all.
During the festival, Citizen of the Year Jim (James) Hurst was recognized by Mayor Carol Lunsford. Hurst actually started the Oktoberfest 50 years ago.
The Oktoberfest celebration started on Saturday, Oct. 14, with a parade through downtown. Many organizations and floats marched in front of the large crowd, throwing candy and other goods to the children watching. John (Bman) Beaulieu with radio station 104.7 WTUE served as the grand marshal.
Following the parade, the opening ceremonies began, where Beaulieu took the mic.
“It’s an honor to be here. I’m always out here riding my motorcycle down Ohio 503 with friends. West Alexandria is a great town — Preble County rocks and we sure appreciate that,” he said. “An Oktoberfest in October, what a great idea. It’s hard to believe this is the 50th, give yourself a big hand. You have a beautiful park and beer this year. That’s where I just came from.”
Next, past queens were recognized, as this year’s candidates stood in front of the crowd. The committee was able to recognize the Oktoberfest Queen from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2003, 1998, and 1987.
Following that tribute to the past, the ceremony for the Queen Contest was held. Five young West Alexandria residents submitted applications for the contest this year. They were interviewed by four judges, who — according to organizers — were very impressed by the quality of applicants.
The contest is sponsored by West Alexandria Kiwanas Club and Alpha Kappa Sorority. Monitory prizes were made possible by Roselius Insurance, Lawn Plus, and Twin Valley Bank.
The 2017 Oktoberfest Court consisted of: Lindsay Hager, Audrey Chesney, Kelsey Shafer, Erin Tebbe, and Liberty Chesney.
Kelsey Shafer was crowned second runner-up, Erin Tebbe was crowned as first runner-up, and Audrey Chesney was crowed 2017 Oktoberfest Queen.
Mayor Lunsford had several proclamations to present in celebration of the 50th anniversary.
The first was a proclamation presented to Caleb Sink for the benches he installed in Peace Park.
“You know you hear today, ‘Oh these kids, they’re up to no good. They are always getting in trouble.’ I want to tell you that we have some of the finest young people in this area. They do such wonderful things,” Lunsford said. “Sink made four picnic tables, wonderful picnic tables for our park, and he donated them to us. That was part of his Eagle Scout Award.
“We are fortunate to have someone willing to put that sort of time in. It is my pleasure to be able to write a proclamation for him.”
She proceeded to proclaim Oct. 22 “Caleb Sink Day” in the Village of West Alexandria.
Next, Lunsford read a proclamation for the 50th anniversary of Oktoberfest, acknowledging the accomplishment and the work the committee puts in every year.
Finally, Lunsford recognized Citizen of the Year Hurst, who actually contributed to the founding of the Kiwanis Oktoberfest 50 years ago.
“Jim [Hurst] is 100 years young,” Lunsford said. “That is not the only reason I chose him to be our Citizen of the Year. He has been a very important person to our community. He has served as mayor for two terms, council member, and as someone who when he gives advice, you listen. He has given me advice and I listened. I didn’t do it, but I listened.”
“I did write Jim [Hurst] a proclamation. He was 100 in January. We sent that to him then, just because I wanted to make sure he got it. We are so proud of you and thankful that you have blessed us with your presence today” she said.
“It feels great to be 100,” Hurst said. “There is no secret to life, you just keep getting out of bed every morning. It feels pretty good to be Citizen of the Year. Audrey Petry and I started the festival. Somebody mentioned something about the Oktoberfest and wanted somebody to head it up. Audrey [Petry] and I decided to start it and we did. Our first Oktoberfest we had ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds.
“It feels good to be here today at the 50th anniversary. It feels good to be anywhere,” Hurst added.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH