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Three decades in the making

Octoberfest in Coal City continues tradition despite inclement weather

COAL CITY – Stephen Druse of Coal City Boy Scout Troop 466 began to cook bratwurst before 9 a.m. Saturday to fill the troop’s goal of $1,000 in sales.

“We brought out the car to smash, but the brats are our main attraction,” said Druse, 15. “We hope to sell $1,000 in brats because we need a bigger trailer and expand our troop meeting place because we have had rapid expansion of the group. It’s a good problem to have.”

Thirty-three years ago, the General Federation of Women’s Club’s group for the Coal City Junior Women’s Club decided it needed to find a fun way to raise money within its own community, and Octoberfest was born.

Now, thousands flock to the annual event, which shuts down part of South Broadway downtown, and a festival atmosphere takes over with music; local artists; vendors and organizations; smoky barbecue and bratwurst; dancers; and other entertainment, as well as the parade finale.

Octoberfest typically runs from
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. but the festivities were cut short at 2 p.m. because of rain and threatening storms. The majority of the festival continued until then.

Events with the Coal City police and fire departments, music entertainment, the parade and the announcement of the woman of the year and community service awards were canceled.

“It was a little disappointing, but we are better safe than sorry,” said Terri Tatroe, an organizer for the Coal City Junior Women’s Club.

Tatroe said she would like to announce that Ann Gill, editor of the Coal City Courant, was given the community service award by the village of Coal City for her work in the community and schools.

The GFWC Illinois Prairie State Women’s Club was to give out the woman of the year award, but it will be postponed until the Nov. 14 Village Board meeting.

The cloudy skies did not deter revelers Saturday morning. By 10 a.m., the streets were filled, and young and old alike walked through the many booths that lined South Broadway.

Some local organizations aimed to create awareness and raise money; other booths were filled with homemade holiday crafts or home décor pieces. Local artists showcased woodworking or paintings.

Emilie Wills of Diamond began to paint nine years ago when she wintered in Florida. She took an oil painting class and started to create her own art.

On Saturday, Wills showcased a new technique she called a pour painting, where she puts multiple colors of paint into a vessel and then pours the paint out onto the canvas.

“Some I just leave as a picture, and others I paint over the poured-on canvas,” Wills said.

She was to teach a class on this technique she learned in June, but it was canceled. She hopes to reschedule and teach more painting classes locally.

Tatroe said what makes this event special each year is the amount of community involvement.

“We could not do this without the help of the community. The village of Coal City, police and fire, local businesses, Realtors and other organizations, everybody comes together and works together. This is amazing, and the biggest fundraiser of the year.
It helps us put money back into the community,” Tatroe said.

Some of the ways the GFWC Coal City Junior Women’s Club has given back to Coal City and surrounding
communities has been with its fingerprinting of children in kindergarten or new children to the district, junior
student of the month in the elementary schools, village tree lighting, Baby
Valentine contest, Thanksgiving meals, the Life Banquet hosted by the Pregnancy Resource Center and more.

Tatroe said she and the group have new projects coming up in the future, as well.

“We want to change a few things. We have projects we have done for so long, and they need to be refreshed. Think about it,” Tatroe said. “Octoberfest was a new event one year, and it’s lasted 33 years.”

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