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Competing Oktoberfests

Planning an Oktoberfest can be hard work, Bill Madden said.

“Trying to get brewers together is like herding chickens,” said Madden, the master brewer at Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington. “It’s near impossible.”

Madden has plenty of experience at wheedling commitments out of brewers, as he puts the finishing touches on the third annual Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest, planned for Oct. 12. It’s one of two Oktoberfest celebrations for the day, at both ends of Arlington.

Capitol City’s event will draw 33 beer brewers to the Village at Shirlington, offering $2 samples of nearly 80 beers, Madden said. At the same time, Blocktoberfest 2002, which will wrap around two sides of Ballston Common Mall, will raise money for child abuse awareness with performances from 15 local bands. All proceeds from the Ballston event will go to Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia.

“IT’S KIND OF a twofold effort,” said Diane Charles, executive director of the regional SCAN. “We want to raise money, but we also want to increase our presence in Arlington.”

The fundraising comes at a crucial time, with the short state budget and upheavals at the local United Way cutting into SCAN’s budget. “So we want to raise funds,” Charles said. “But we also want to do public education.”

Joining other family-oriented activities, SCAN’s booth at the festival will offer jewelry making for children – an activity that appeals to toddlers and teens alike, Charles said. At the same time, parents will be able to get information from SCAN on stopping child abuse.

Blocktoberfest should appeal to both children and adults, said Mike Harrigan, one of the Blocktobergest organizers for HiBall Events. “We’ve got everything from cotton candy to brats, hamburgers and beverages,” he said. “And a couple dozen activities for all ages: everything from moon bounces to pumpkin decorating, sumo wrestling and rock climbing.”

In addition, 15 local bands will perform on three different stages around the festival, including Love Seed Mama Jump, the Kelly Bell Band and Juniper Lane. One stage will feature four local Latino bands, Harrigan said, with Duende Camaron headlining on the stage.

There should be something for everyone, Harrigan said: “the young professional who wants to come out, have a beer, see a band and have a good time will find that here, as well as the family who wants to come out, have cotton candy, do rock climbing and carnival games.”

SOME BOOTHS at Blocktoberfest will offer beer. But they can’t match the sheer variety at the Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest, Madden said. “At last count, we had 33 breweries bringing two to four beers, so we’ll have approximately 80 different brews,” he said. “We’ve got all types, from commercial brewers, craft, micro and regional brewers.”

Some brewers, like Spaten and Paulaner, will come from as far away as Germany, and some from Arlington and Loudoun County, like Old Dominion, Rock Bottom Brewery and Madden, with Capitol City’s special Oktoberfest brew.

“It’s called ‘Hitzigfrau,’” he said. “That’s Low German for ‘Hot Mama.’ We say it’s very low German. The ladies in the local home-brew club have been coming in to do this for the last three years. It was brewed back in July, so it should be nice and smooth.”