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German or not, visitors welcome to Oktoberfest

| Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009

Your first thought is going to be don't these girls get dizzy, Mary Oberneder said of the Almrausch Schuhplatters, a 30-member traditional German dance group from Altoona that will be performing Saturday at Arts on the Allegheny's Oktoberfest celebration in Kittanning's Riverfront Park amphitheater.

Oberneder, of Kittanning Township, has been watching her daughters Anna, 16, and Kate, 14, who attend Ford City High School, dance with the group for years. "They don't (get dizzy)," she said.

"The girls will be spinning, wearing their traditional dirndl (dress), blouse and apron (folk costume) and the boys will be slapping their thighs and wearing lederhosen," said Oberneder.

"The traditional dance they do tells stories," she added. "They're upholding their German heritage. This area hasn't seen a lot of this kind of dance. I think people are going to be able to enjoy the concept of the dance."

Chase McClister, a member of the Arts on the Allegheny committee, has seen online videos of the dancers performing.

"They're decked out in Oktoberfest garb," said McClister. "They really have those dance steps down. It's going to add to the fun for everybody."

Arts on the Allegheny will be turning the park into the Black Forest of Germany and an Alpine village from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday

Almrausch Schuhplatters is scheduled to perform at 6 p.m.

There will be plenty of authentic Bavarian dance, brews, brats and music to keep everybody happy, according to Arts on the Allegheny Chairwoman Mary Ann Valasek.

"There is something for everyone," Valasek said.

Arts on the Allegheny wants everyone, German or not, to come to the event and link arms and swing a beer mug back and forth to the music and to get up and dance to a polka.

Oktoberfest in Kittanning will have five bands performing and a polka contest.

There will be a balloon artist and a sculpture display from River Fine Arts Association.

Ben Valasek will play acoustic guitar at 2 p.m.; Roni and Joe Caruso will perform eclectic folk at 3 p.m; Ray Ryan will do New Orleans style jazz at 4 p.m.; Andy Fenus does polka from 5 p.m until 8 p.m.; and Amber Alexis is doing a pop and rock show at 9 p.m.

The polka contest is at 7 p.m. Trophies will be awarded to the winners.

There will be authentic German dishes of sausages, wursts and pretzels.

Gardas, Grill Haus, The Inn, Black Forest Haus, Mulberry Street Creamery and Vocelli Pizza are among the local vendors at the event, Valasek said.

This will be the first of an annual Oktoberfest celebration, Arts on The Allegheny organizers said.

"It should give us an opportunity to come together as a community to enjoy food, music and company as we mark the end of the summer," said Valasek.

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