Galveston’s First Evangelical Lutheran Church is gearing up for its annual Island Oktoberfest festival, a German-themed event that will celebrate its 36th year starting today. The festival will be held in the streets around the church at 2415 Winnie St. in Galveston.

Co-sponsored by Del Papa Distributing Co., festivities will be from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Also, in addition to the festival, the church will live stream the World Series games between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers on a giant screen in the courtyard at 7 p.m. today and Saturday.

The family-oriented event will include live entertainment, authentic German food and libations, fine arts, crafts and gifts, an auction, children’s activities, and more.

“Island Oktoberfest is a unique family friendly festival that truly is a community gathering place,” said Rev. Richard Rhoades, pastor of the church. “With great food and live music, it is a phenomenal place to meet up with family and friends to enjoy the German fun, but also to sit and catch up on life.”

Admission is free and open to the public, and German costumes are encouraged — but not required.

“This year we have made additions to the children’s area which we believe will be bigger and better than before — all so that children and families will be able to enjoy the Island Oktoberfest even more,” Rhoades said. “We once again will offer a polka worship service at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, which is a great chance to worship God. I hope everyone will come out for a great time.”

Today, themed biergarten venues featuring a variety of both German and domestic brews and a variety of German-style wines from Haak Vineyards in Santa Fe will be available, organizers said. Also new this year will be a special wine tasting event with Haak Winery and a beer tasting event with Del Papa.

“Oktoberfest is a large festival that has maintained the flavor of a small church event,” said Marilyn Haupt, one of the organizers. “This has been possible due to the dedication of the church members who are still involved in all of the activities. Folks love the hometown and comfortable atmosphere as Winnie Street transforms into a joyful German fest.”

Festivalgoers also will get to tour the historic and beautifully renovated circa 1860 Lyceum from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday where vendors will be showcasing all sorts of wares such as handcrafted arts, crafts and gift items just in time for the upcoming holiday season.

And although admission is free, no animals will be allowed on the festival grounds. For information, visit www.galvestonoktoberfest.com or call 409-762-8477.

“There is fun to be had for people of all ages,” Haupt said. “ I look forward each year to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Our goal is for everyone to feel like a part of our extended church family and have a memorable time.”

Angela Wilson: 409-683-5239; angela.wilson@galvnews.com

Angela Wilson is the community news editor for The Daily News.

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