St. Nicholas in Laguna Woods and St. Martin de Porres in Yorba Linda called it Oktoberfest. St. Hedwig in Los Alamitos called it Autumnfest. But all three churches called it a good time for all.
While all three events were longtime annual fundraisers, St. Martin de Porres canceled its Oktoberfest in 2020, while St. Nicholas parish and St. Hedwig parish took a two-year hiatus from fall events due to the pandemic.
Oktoberfest means good German food like knockwurst as red cabbage, sauerkraut, potato salad and strudel for dessert – not to mention good German beer. Games, music and dancing are all part of the program.
VOLUNTEERS POSE FOR A PICTURE DURING ST. HEDWIG’S AUTUMNFEST. THE EVENT WAS HELD SEPT. 23-25 IN LOS ALAMITOS. PHOTO BY KIERNAN COLIFLORES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
Prior to the pandemic, St. Nicholas parish would hold its Oktoberfest annually to raise money for its School of Religious Education program.
“People were asking, ‘Why can’t we have that again?’” explained St. Nicholas event chair Del Moses. I asked the pastor if we could do it again and he said yes.”
Religious education teacher Al Lopez was upbeat about the event and its value to the religious education program – of which 142 students are currently enrolled.
Oktoberfest is St. Martin de Porres’ main fundraiser each year, with the purpose of supporting its 60-plus ministries. They include Care for Creation, a recycling and green program; Corazon Build, building houses in Mexico; Outreach Center, distributing food and resources to local needy; and Skid Row, delivering food, clothing and necessities experiencing homelessness.
“Oktoberfest has been the biggest event in Yorba Linda for the last 42 years, deepening our community spirit,” explained St. Martin de Porres Business Manager Elena Chupinsky.
Oktoberfest features carnival rides game booths, a dozen musical groups and international food for all.
VOLUNTEERS PREPARE FOOD DURING ST. MARTIN DE PORRES’ OKTOBERFEST. THE EVENT WAS HELD FROM SEPT. 30 THROUGH OCT. 2 IN YORBA LINDA. PHOTO BY DREW KELLEY/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
“The annual Oktoberfest celebration at St. Martin de Porres only happens because of many dedicated volunteers,” added pastor Msgr. Stephen Doktorczyk. “It brings together substantial numbers of people from Yorba Linda and surrounding areas, many of whom are not parishioners or Catholic. It is something the entire city looks forward to each year and planning for next year’s event will soon begin.”
The goal of St. Hedwig’s Autumnfest was to raise enough money to renovate the church and courtyard. The event was a collaboration of its school and parish families. The festival included Polynesian dancers, karaoke, live bands and performers, along with carnival rides and a menu including funnel cake, bratwurst, and tri-tip sandwiches. Mexican and Asian food booths were included.
“Autumnfest was never about the money,” said volunteer Kelly Hentges. “It’s about getting the community back together after two years. Everyone was thrilled and many came for all three days.”
According to St. Nicholas’s Al Lopez, Oktoberfest’s most important goal was to come together as a community.
“We want to have the kids come out and experience the beautiful life outside,” he said. “For the past two years they’ve been inside stuck behind their phones and being really isolated from interacting with their friends in the community. We’re really excited to give them a chance to have a public event, to give them some fun, to have some good food and just enjoy the fellowship here at St. Nicholas.”