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Oktoberfest rolls into Ironton

Herbert and Herta Heine waltzed around the dance floor Saturday afternoon while the Zinzinnatti Bierband provided what must have been to them a familiar sounding tune:

“Oh may I go a-wandering until the day I die,

O may I always laugh and sing, beneath God’s clear blue sky.

Valdree… valdra… valdra he ha ha ha ha… valdree… valdra…

Beneath God’s clear blue sky.”

If the song was authentically German, so were the Heines, who immigrated from Germany to Boyd County, Ky., in the 1950s.

“We heard about the Oktoberfest last year but we heard about it too late to come,” Herta Heine said. “Then we heard on the news the other night they were having it. Whenever we can dance, we dance.”

Thanks to Ironton’s second annual Oktoberfest, they got the chance. And so did quite a few other people.

“We’ve got people here from Virginia, from North Carolina and Wisconsin, so people are coming from all over. And of course, we’re seeing people from Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia,” said friends of Ironton President Rick Jansen. FOI sponsored the event. “Things are going very well. I think we’ve doubled or tripled the crowd last year. Obviously., we’re not dealing with the rain we had last year.”

The festival is a nod to the city’s German roots. Underneath a large tent on a parking lot along Second Street near Park Avenue, vendors sold food and festival mementos while spectators found a seat and lent an ear to the bands.

Sue Harbolt and her sister, Janie Moore, of Ironton, watched the goings-on from a table near the vendor’s booths. Harbolt said she came for “the polka bands and the beer.” She didn’t make it to last year’s inaugural festival but said she was happy she made it to this one.

Five-month-old Fiona Eddy, of Huntington, W.Va., didn’t seem too interested in the bratwurst but her mom, Tracy, and dad, Sean, found themselves a couple and then found seats to watch the Klaber band.

“My husband used to live in Germany and we thought we’d come and see what it was like,” Tracy Eddy said. What did they find that they liked?

Brats and beer,” Tracy replied. “And the music, if course. I’m glad we can hear authentic German music.”

Along with the Klaber orchestra, The Hank Haller Ensemble and the Klaberheads were also scheduled to perform. Oktoberfest continues today.