Children take part in painting pumpkins during the 34th annual Oktoberfest on Saturday at Holiday Park in Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Revelers raise their steins in honor of Oktoberfest

CARLSBAD — All things German consumed Holiday Park on Saturday as part of the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club’s Oktoberfest.

The 34th installment of the annual event brought out many people in traditional German garb, while the masses gorged on food, beer, pretzels, cotton candy ice cream and more.

Phil Urbina, one of the organizers of the event, said thousands poured through the gate, although an official count has not been tallied. However, he said the club expected a larger turnout than last year, when more than $50,000 was raised to benefit local charities and organizations.

“We had a lot of people there and everybody seemed to had a lot of fun,” Urbina said. “We are just continuing to grow. We got a lot of good response.”

The event ran 10 hours and featured an expanded kids area, costume contests, food and drink, a yodeling contest and a DJ and German bands providing the music.

Urbina said the club focused on creating a more family-friendly environment this year. The event had a sizable kids zone with several inflatable structures plus a pumpkin patch and the first-ever appearance by Ranger Jack, who performed with puppets.

“We really expanded that,” Urbina said about catering to families. “They seemed to appreciate it a great deal. It was something we decided to focus on more this year and make it more fun for families.”

For Raquel and Christian Ibarra, it was the couple’s first time at an Oktoberfest and said the atmosphere was light and fun.

Raquel Ibarra, who is half German, dressed in a traditional Bavarian outfit, although her husband said laughingly he couldn’t bring himself to dress up.

“In a corny way, it’s always been a dream of mine to dress up for Oktoberfest,” Raquel Ibarra said. “He came for the beer, but I dragged him here. I planned to drink like a German. I wish they would do it the whole week. I get really into it.”

“I would dress up if more people were dressed up,” Christian Ibarra added. “I don’t like the attention.”

The event, meanwhile, has poured in more than $1 million into the community. It started in 1982 as a fundraiser to help the late Glenn McComas, a former Carlsbad City Councilmember and Rotarian who became paralyzed from the neck down after falling off a ladder.

The two Rotarian clubs came together to raise funds to renovate McComas’ house to accommodate his disability so he could return home from the VA hospital. Rotarians not only raised the money, but did all of the remodeling.

“Every penny we make goes back to the community,” Urbina said.

As for next year, he said the leadership team has already begun trading ideas on how to improve.

“We will try to incorporate all those ideas to make it bigger and better next year,” Urbina added.