The 2009 Christ Lutheran Church Octoberfest in March will be held Friday, March 13, through Sunday, March 15, at a new location this year. Formerly held in Cape Coral, the event has moved to The Shell Factory & Nature Park in North Fort Myers to accommodate the ever-growing crowds.
On Sunday, March 15, there will be a special 11 a.m. Polka Church Service. This unique part of the event is for everyone, said organizer Don Ostrowsky "The service is non-denominational," he said.
The event will feature authentic German food, beer and music, craft vendors and jam sessions led by three-time grammy winner and "Canada's Polka King" Walter Ostanek. He will be joined by The Yankovic Sound and Bob Kravos - the great nephew of Frank Yankovic - and The Boys In The Band.
"What's special this year is that this is the 10th year of the passing of America's Polka King - Frankie Yankovic - and this year we are going to feature all of his music," said Ostrowsky.
Yankovic came from Cleveland, Ohio, where he made his music a phenomenon in the U.S.
"His grand-nephew, who is Bobbie Kravos, will bring his band from Cleveland and they will be playing. We also have the Polka Sound and they will be using the very instruments that Yankovick used in his recordings," Ostrowsky said.
Who: Christ Lutheran Church
What: Octoberfest in March
When: Friday, March 13-Sunday, March 15
Where: The Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail
North Fort Myers
Information: e-mail email@example.com or call 940-3212
Ostanek is also a legend in the music world.
"It is really special that we will have grammy winner Ostanek playing. He was very, very close to Yankovic," Ostrowsky said.
The event is a local favorite.
"This is the sixth year we've had the Octoberfest in March," said Ostrowsky. "For five years it's been on the grounds of Christ Lutheran Church in the Cape, but what's happened is we've grown to a point that we don't have enough parking."
The Shell Factory is a great solution to accommodate the event's popularity, he said.
"The Shell Factory invited us to conduct it there, and once we got together and saw how philanthropic they were, we just knew this would be the right place to have it," he said.
As in years past, all proceeds from the event are given back to the community.
"Over the last five years, $50,000 has been rasied, going to the Cape Caring Center and Community Cooperative Ministries," he said. Providing food for those that need it is the goal. "That includes Meals on Wheels and the Soup Kitchen."
For festival-goers, Ostrowsky promises great food.
"I just love the potato pancakes and the sausage dinners. We also have the schnitzel dinners and a half-chicken dinner," he said. "All of our sandwiches are $4 and all of our dinners are $8. If anyone even halfway loves this type of of food and music, they just won't be able to wait until next year."
Don't just walk around the grounds, he said, but also stop in the Shell Factory's Dolphin Room.
"We have something no one has ever seen before, special accordions," Ostrowsky said. Like a player piano, these instruments will play themselves. "The two accordions will be playing on their own in the Dolphin Room where the German Food is being served. It's something not to be missed."
More on the music, specifically about The Yankovic Sound, Ostrowsky said, "The real sounds of the Yankovic music will be played by Grant Kozera on accordion and solovox. The solovox was used for many a many years and made the Yankovic sound distinct from anyone else.
"Jeff Winard is on accordion," he continued. "He does the bookings and is the push behind the band. Gus Krueger is on banjo and Lou Conti on drums. This group will bring back many great memoirs of the Yankovic music."
Bands start at 4 p.m. on Friday with non-stop music under the tent and in the restaurant area.
Invited guests are Ida Yankovic, window of Frank Yankovic; Marc Bouchard; Joe Fodorchak; Hank Haller; Bob Turcola; and Jersey Polka Richie.
As "a person who loves polka music," Ostrowsky is going all out to promote the event. This week he did a 13-mile walk through the area dressed in his festive garb and armed with his accordion. Walking with him was Cape resident Deborah Flynn, a walker that actually walked last year from the Cape to Oprah Winfrey's show in Chicago.
They started at Christ Lutheran Church in the Cape and first crossed the the Midpoint Bridge to Edison Mall. As he walked and talked that day, he said he was getting a lot of attention.
"I played the accordion right in front of Sears. People are stopping all over the place. It was a lot of fun," he said.
After the mall, they walked along U.S. 41 to downtown Fort Myers, with a stop at the Old Lee County Courthouse for commissioners, with a final stop back at the Shell Factory.
Hours for the event are Friday, March 13, from 4 to 10 p.m,; Saturday, March 14, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, March 15, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission is $4 and includes being entered into a drawing for a trip for two to Dsseldorf, Germany.
For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 940-3212. The Shell Factory is located at 2787 N. Tamiami Trail in North Fort Myers.