Indulge: O’fest profits help others

September 2010 Posted in Food & Drink, Other

By Dixon BledsoeThe Benedictine Sisters are one of the 50 non-profit groups who provide unique dining opportunities at Mt. Angel\'s Oktoberfest

When September rolls around, two things come to mind – football and Oktoberfest.

Naturally, Oktoberfest makes us think of great music, arts and crafts booths and many events from bike races to the fun run (the ultimate oxymoron).

The food associated with this Bavarian festival is a mere afterthought, a chore to be completed in a hurry so we can get to the bandstand to hear “Edelweiss.”  Uh, huh. And politics have never been more civil, with bi-partisan solutions standing the test of time …

I attend OFest for the food – pure and simple. Sure, the Chicken Dance is a blast, but for me it serves a single purpose – dancing off the calories from the four entrees consumed earlier so there is room for another and a couple of desserts. New to the Oktoberfest? No problem. The Epicurean Cavalry is here.

The 50 non-profit food booths count on dollars from the Oktoberfest as a crucial cog in their fund-raising wheels. So every time you eat, you are helping a nonprofit fund its programs.

The Calvary Chapel of Salem sells fish tacos (beef tacos, too) and uses the proceeds to fund a mission near Baja, Mexico. They support an indigenous Indian population called the Misteco, through Mission San Antonio de las Minas.  The Ofest funds help build homes, pay for electricity, buy school books and support the pastor and his wife, Andy and Monica Alvarez.  Monica’s recipe for fish tacos are an Oktoberfest hit.

The Silver Fox Foundation booth has been at the same spot since time and Oktoberfest began. It sells traditional Oktoberfest sausages with rye bun and sauerkraut, and has had great success with Chicken Basil Sausage, that is becoming legendary for those wanting a healthy yet scrumptious alternative. Their mission is helping kids through scholarships, whether academic awards for seniors or kids needing help to attend a national wrestling competition or FBLA convention. Silverton High School students who work in the booth receive funds to help their athletic team or group. To date the foundation has given out well over $50,000.

The BBQ pork sandwich is to die for, courtesy of the Silverton Lions Club, which supports a number of programs, including the Casey Eye Institute in Portland.

The one booth I never miss is Mission Santa Maria. Their tacos, tostadas and nachos are delicious but I’ve
been known to eat my weight in tamales offered up since I have lived in Texas and use to drink salsa from my bottle instead of formula as an infant.

The Keizer Fire Department has corn-on-the-cob. It is, simply, the best I have ever had, especially when dusted with chili powder. It costs a dollar but the toothpicks are free.

My favorite sandwich in Bavarian world is the Berliner served by the great volunteers of St. Edward Catholic Church. My wife makes me split one with her. That usually doesn’t work for me.

I never eat sweets, having an amazing willpower that keeps them out of this temple I call my body. Unless, however, I am awake and breathing. Then it gets ugly.

There are two things I must have as my Oktoberfest feast concludes – One is the incredible Bavarian Ice Cream Nut Bars (vanilla ice cream bars hand-dipped in delicious chocolate and rolled in freshly-crushed hazelnuts) served by those dazzling Drake’s Crossing Firefighters. They use the proceeds for education, training, equipment, and resuscitating people like me who eat too much.

The Oktoberfest food coup de grace ends at the Butte Creek Parents’ Club booth, serving up German Chocolate Cake and world-famous Apple Cake with Butter Sauce. I never end my Ofest feeding frenzy without inhaling Apple Cake. It is like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Homemade, and proudly served by parents volunteering hundreds of hours to make sure kids from this quality rural school go on field trips and more when budget pickings get slim. There’s a good excuse to indulge on these treats this year. The Parent Teacher Club needs to raise money to build a much needed playground cover. When the winds whips and the rain downpours, students have nowhere to keep warm and dry on the playground.

My editor required that I keep my verbosity in check, so not every great food booth was covered. From Rosettes to Rubens, and deep fried Twinkies to savory Schnitzel, the Oktoberfest is not for the culinary faint of heart. But it is full of good people doing great things for others. So have a Bratwurst and a brew, and thank the volunteers dishing up great food so they can do great things.

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