Downtown Fest

Published 11:03 pm Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Friends of Ironton’s annual Oktoberfest brought out the lovers of German cuisine and civic volunteers wishing to help their causes.

Bill Pritchett and his wife enjoyed some brat sandwiches as they relaxed under a marquee set up off South Second Street Saturday afternoon.

This was the first visit for the couple from Wayne, W.Va., who chose the Ironton festival over the fall fest going on in their hometown.

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“We like to try out the festivals that are close to home,” Pritchett said.

Members of the Ironton Post of the American Legion manned a table of Memorial Hall memorabilia from sweatshirts to a DVD about the historic structure to drawings. All proceeds go to the ongoing campaign of the post to restore the 19th century structure.

“We are going to do it,” Jerry Brownstead, Legion chaplain, said about the restoration. “It is not an ‘if.’ People are helping. It is slow but coming through.”

The American Legion has as its first phase the goal of raising $500,000 that will pay for gutting the inside, putting on a new roof and an interior steel superstructure.

“It’s going better than expected. The community as a whole seems to be behind us in their thoughts, not necessarily their pocketbook,” Jim Volgares, commander of the Legion post, said. “The American Legion has been supportive statewide and from neighboring states. Every time I visit a post I come home with $500.”

However, every six months the Legion must put out $4,500 in rent for the protective fencing that surrounds the hall.

The one to win the prize of coming from the farthest way had to be Oscar Legarda and his wife, Denise, who came to Ironton from Staten Island, N.Y., expressly for the city’s Octoberfest.

The pair had met Rick Jansen, of the Friends of Ironton, and his wife, in Munich recently and were invited to Ironton for the event.

“It’s excellent,” Legarda said about the festival. “And the town is very nice. It is very homey.”