This year was Bridgette Volei's second visit to Oktoberfest.
Volei, of Moriches, who was stationed in Germany about 20 years ago while she was in the Army, said she was “counting down the days” until the big event in Center Moriches.
She attended last year’s Oktoberfest with her husband and a few friends and said she “fell in love.”
Walking down Main Street in Center Moriches to the entrance of Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, attendees will see signs announcing live music, German food and beer. Volunteers smile and await donations while pointing visitors in the direction of the carnival and beer garden while saying "drink a few beers and start dancing."
Oktoberfest celebrates German heritage with cultural food from Bavarian-style bratwurst and Munich weisswurst to pretzels and hot dogs. A beer garden features Coors Light, Blue Moon and Spaten Oktoberfest. Along with music, the event includes a carnival for the kids and vendors selling clothing, artwork and jewelry.
Oktoberfest began three years ago under the efforts of Peter Traina, chairman of the event and president of the Moriches Rotary Club, which owns Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck.
“The camp is run on donations and fundraising,” Traina said. “We solicited vendors for the event to raise money to benefit the camp and it all just came together.”
Oktoberfest kicked off Friday and continues through Sunday at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck; admission is $7. According to Traina, Oktoberfest has raised $30,000 over the past two years for the camp.
“I believe anything where you can have a really good time and raise money for a charity is a win-win,” Volei said. “It is a really awesome thing that benefits such an amazing camp.”
Bridget Costello, the camp’s director, said the camp was founded 65 years ago for children with polio and now serves children with a variety of special needs.
“We rely heavily on this time of year to raise money from our duck barbecues, to Oktoberfest and our Spook Walk,” she said. “We have seen two very successful years and hope to have yet another be just as successful.”