GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Visitors flocked over the weekend to the annual Oktoberfest at Historic Smithville and the Village Greene, even in Sunday’s rain — but while they were there, did they really try anything, you know, German?
“I’ve only been here an hour,” said Bill Babcock, of Toms River. “But the one thing that surprised me is ... I always thought Oktoberfest was at least somewhat about German food.”
Visitors walked past the Barbeque Sundaes stand, the St. Nicholas Church Greek Food Festival stand and the Japanese Teriyaki stand as they wandered through the tents and browsed the crafts. And many of their purchases were less than Teutonic.
“We bought a lot of wine,” said Cindy Crager, of Egg Harbor Township. “We came and ate, walked around, and went directly to the wine store. Well, not directly.”
Nancy Boudakian, of Brick Township, bought some Italian bread, while Lainey O’Reilly and Anthony Schiavo, of Ocean City, enjoyed a gyro.
“We’re obviously disappointed in the weather,” O’Reilly said in her Irish accent. “But we’re local, and we come every year. And we’ll be here for the Irish festival next week, that’s for sure.”
As for the craftsmen and vendors, “Yesterday was super, phenomenal,” said Pete Peterson, in charge of bookings. “But today the weather was not good for crafters.”
There were only about 100 craft tents Sunday, compared to the usual 130 or so for such events, and Peterson said that similar events such as those in Ocean City and Glassboro being held so close to Smithville’s Oktoberfest may have had an effect.
Stilll, some crafters had no complaints. Angela Toland, who had a hand-crafted jewelry tent, said that Saturday was “fabulous, and fantastically good day, one of our record days. And actually we didn’t do bad today.” A repeat customer, she said, “came in and swooped up a whole bunch of stuff. She made my day today.”
In the end, though, there were at least a few people there for an authentic German experience.
“The beer’s OK,” said Richie Szelc, of Manahawkin, Stafford Township. “That’s why I come every year. The rest is something to look at while I drink Beck’s Oktoberfest.”
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