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Festival returns with bigger beer garden

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Historic Downtown Crawfordsville Oktoberfest returns for the second year Saturday, with a larger beer garden and an attempt to stage Indiana’s largest Chicken Dance.

After a ceremonial keg tapping at Backstep Brewing Co. at noon, the festivities move to Pike Place at 4 p.m., giving more room to serve beer and set up food vendors.

“When Pike Place was born we saw an opportunity to use the new space, kind of showcase the new park for the town and at the same time make a bigger, more comfortable event for everybody,” Backstep co-founder Jim Boros said.

Organizers expect to double attendance from last year, when at least 500 people gathered at the brewery. The event is co-sponsored by Visit Montgomery County, Crawfordsville Main Street and the city’s parks and recreation department.

Four varieties of beer will be on tap, including a special Oktoberfest batch and a made-from-scratch Pilsner named after Henry Lorenz, believed to be Crawfordsville’s first brewer. Patrons can sip their drink from a souvenir mug.

Contestants will press their strength in a 6 p.m. stein hoist. Registration begins at noon at the brewery and the event is capped at 20 people. Other contests include a brat and pretzel toss and Bavarian costume competition. A corn tournament will be played in the beer garden.

Other activities include children’s games and live music from the Polka Pop band and Dysfunction Brass.

Last year, as the next band prepared to take the stage, organizers turned to a streaming Oktoberfest station for music. When the Chicken Dance began playing, some people began going through the motions.

This weekend, Boros wants the rest of the crowd to join in. He couldn’t find any information about a statewide record for the number of people doing the dance.

“It’s kind of goofy, but it should be a riot,” Boros said.

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