Oktoberfest returns

Terry Ard, of Mount Vernon, is among the half dozen musicians who make up the group Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, one of several polka bands that kept the dancers on the floor at the annual Shellabration Oktoberfest celebration in Oleson Park.

He’s pretty humble about his skills as a trumpet player and makes no secret of being married to Becky Ard – the band’s namesake and accordion player.

“That’s the only reason I get to play in the band,” he joked.

Anita Whitmore, of Woodbine, and Duane Reinsch, of Webster City, were among the many who spun around on the floor as the group played.

They both said they came for the dancing.

Brad Messerly, of Fort Dodge, came for the dancing too – along with the chance to celebrate a German tradition.

He’s new to the polka and other dances.

“The dancing is way more fun than I thought it would be,” he said.

The polka, waltzing and foxtrot go with his costume.

“If you’re going to dress up,” he said, “you might as well dance.”

He began learning a few months ago; he said he’s making good progress.

“I’m beyond a newbie but I’m not an expert,” he said.

Of course, it would hardly be an Oktoberfest without beer; several imported and domestic brews were on tap.

Cathy Conley, of Fort Dodge, was one of the volunteers tasked with bringing it to the tables.

“It’s muscle on our arms,” she said while picking up two pitchers.

There is also plenty of food available.

Chef Michael Hirst, director of the Iowa Central Community College Culinary Arts program, had a group of his students prepare some traditional German fare – pretzels with a beer/mustard/cheese sauce, strudel and a whole roasted pig.

It proved popular.

“Our pig was good,” he said. “It’s gone.”

It was devoured in only a few hours.

“Next year we’re going to have to get two,” he said.

Proceeds from the students’ efforts go toward the annual trip to the Chicago Culinary Exposition.

Brady Walker, of Des Moines, a first-year student, was having his first experience with the German cuisine.

“I like it,” he said. “Homemade pretzels are the best.”

The polka bands are only part of the entertainment experience at Oktoberfest. The evening headliner was the Beatles tribute band The Fab Four.

Randy Davis, of Des Moines, came to see them.

“I’ve been following them since the early ’90s,” he said.

He describes his basement as a “near shrine-like” tribute to the Beatles, although he never got to see the original group.

“I’ve seen Paul, but I haven’t seen the Beatles,” he said.

He said seeing The Fab Four as close to the real thing as he can imagine it.

He demonstrated his faith in the group by arriving at 1:30 p.m. and getting a seat for his lawn chair in the front row.

While waiting, he enjoyed one of the roasted pork sandwiches.

“It was wonderful,” he said.

Jim Reed, Shellabration president, said The Fab Four is taking the entertainment to a new, higher level. He also made sure the food was up to high standards.

“Sehr gut,” he said, “very good.”