A favorite fall tradition
By Robin Scott
Dallam and Hartley Counties area residents flock to Oktoberfest each year at Rita Blanca Coliseum. This year, hundreds upon hundreds of hungry guests poured into the coliseum on Sunday, October 25th to enjoy sausage, sauerkraut, German-style mashed potatoes, green beans and scrumptious desserts. The Sunday meal began at 11:30 a.m. and people ate to capacity until 2:30 p.m.
An estimated 9,000 pounds of sausage was shipped into Dalhart for the annual event that raised funds for St. Anthony’s School. Early that same morning Bishop Patrick J. Zurek and Father Scott L. Raef, Pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony at the Church property. The new addition to the church property will accommodate many different activities and purposes at an estimated cost of $4 million, not only benefiting the church but the entire community.
The authentic sausage meal fed approximately 2,500 men, women and children. Tables were filled with excitement as people talked about everything from the wonderful food to the items up for auction in the next room. One patron stated, “It’s like being at a really big family party, where you know just about everyone, and you enjoy great food and visiting with your friends and family.”
For a small fee, visitors enjoyed an unlimited amount of food eaten inside the coliseum or offered for take-out. A four car wide drive-thru lane was set up to handle all of the supporters who wanted to take their delicious food home, but the line of vehicles still traveled around the building. The drizzling cold weather didn’t detour anyone from enjoying the event.
As a part of the fundraiser, area businesses donated items for auction, both silent and live. Items included such things as baskets of all sorts of goodies, seed and farm equipment to vacations. Patrons had the chance to purchase raffle tickets for a beautiful hand made rifle, or to throw darts to win an iPod touch. Jerrett Sides with the Dallam County Sheriff’s Department was one such lucky winner of the coveted iPod.
So many items were available for auction that finesse was required to maneuver in and around the tables to get a good look at what items were available. One man noted, “I’m staying close to this table because I really want to win that item, and if someone comes up to outbid me, I want to make sure I’m able to up my bid.” Watching people who were so excited to bid on the various items because they wanted to support the school was equally exciting.
Father Raef wandered through the auction hall visiting with as many people as possible. A truly pleasant and God-loving man, his presence added to the success of the event. Father Raef is almost ready to move out of the quarters provided on the church’s property to a house across the street from the church.
The number of volunteers necessary to prepare dinner for 2,500 hungry people was staggering, but finding volunteers has never been a problem for the fall event. People rise to the task. Children who attend St. Anthony’s School waited on patrons with water, tea, sausage and sauerkraut with happy smiles and a giggle or two. Whether serving food or packing up a to-go box, setting up tables or cleaning up afterward, the volunteers truly made the day the huge success that it was and made each guest or drive up patron feel welcomed. Now that Oktoberfest is over, fall is well on its way.