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Oaks Park Oktoberfest again rolls out a barrel of fun

by: David F. Ashton Dressed in authentic costumes, Mari and Terry Rudd dance to the music of the Polkatones.

On the third weekend each September, historic Oaks Amusement Park rolls out a celebration of all things Germanic - as once again they host Portland's pre-eminent 'Oktoberfest'.

As many as 30,000 people come through the nonprofit amusement park's gates to enjoy food, beverages, and loads of family-friendly entertainment.

'This is our 21st year celebrating Oktoberfest,' observed Oaks Park's ever-perky event manager, Emily MacKay. 'I've been involved with this back when it was hosted by the Rhinelander, and I've been managing it for seven years.'

Thinking over all of the events during the festival, MacKay said she couldn't choose a favorite. 'Maybe it's because I'm of German heritage, but I like it all - the food, music, dancing, crowds, and the contests. I look forward to Oktoberfest; it's my very favorite event of the year.'

The wiener-dog races are a big hit, MacKay smiled, drawing record numbers of entries. 'And, our cooking show, featuring authentic recipes, continues to be a hit. This year, the recipes will be online, after the demonstrations.'

New this year was the variety of foods available. 'Portland loves food carts - and this year, we have six vendors offering all kinds of foods from the region. It's fun, it adds a lot to the event.'

With that, MacKay was off to host the 'pretzel toss' contest - and of course, as she does each year, to lead the 'Chicken Dance'.