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Oktoberfest pulls in the crowds for 45th event

BOARDMAN — For 45 years, the Boardman Rotary has hosted an Oktoberfest that brings families from throughout the area and from other states together for a day of fun shopping.

The annual event took place Sunday at Boardman Park with thousands of visitors at the all-day event.

Shelly Liberto, Rotary president, said of the 200 vendors, about 170 are arts and crafts with the rest being food, nonprofit and commercial vendors. She said they would like to raise more than $45,000. Oktoberfest is Rotary’s largest annual fundraiser.

Liberto said a highlight of the day is the 120-member Boardman High School band marching and performing throughout the park.

She said the event started as a small flea market that has grown into a car show and now into a large arts and crafts fall show.

“We span the park from front to back. It’s a great day to be out and enjoy the fall weather and for people to buy some fun things for their homes or friends. Many start their Christmas shopping today. We have something for everyone. We have things for men as well as children. They appreciate that the money they give today for admission helps so many organizations,” Liberto said.

Bob Mastriana of the Rotary said the event is the main fundraiser for the club followed by a maple syrup and pancake breakfast.

“We not only get people from across Ohio but from other parts of the country who set up booths or spend the day shopping,” he said.

While the club was pleased with 200 vendors, there have been as many as 450 in past years.

Mastriana said at one time the event raised $100,000 and now raises between $35,000 and $45,000.

“Every dollar we take in goes back into the community with scholarships and philanthropic activities,” he said.

He predicted about 10,000 visitors would come through the gates throughout the day.

Liberto said the club supports Beatitude House, Boys and Girls Club, Easterseals, Boardman schools and other organizations throughout the year. She said the membership of 63 people volunteer at the event.

“It takes all of us to put on an event like this. We are grateful the community is receptive to this each year,” she said.

The event was co-chaired by Celeste Lisko and Sheryl Figliano.

Shopping for fall decorations were Brenda Romandetti of Canfield and Leisha Zolla of Poland.

“I like looking around and seeing what they have,” Romandetti said.

“It’s nice to be able to get outside and see all the different crafts and be with friends. It has become a tradition for us,” Zolla said, noting she was looking for a black cat decoration for outside her home.

Abby Prokop of Howland said it is a family tradition to attend the Oktoberfest with her sister, Sarah Kominak of Pataskala, who drives up from east of Columbus for the event.

“We have always been coming here each fall. We all get together for the day,” Prokop said.

She said the family looks for decorations, candy, cookies, jewelry and other items.

“I look for yard decorations and decorations for my home. I love crafts,” Vicki Prokop of Newton Falls said.

“I like spending the day with everyone. If I see something I like, I’ll get it,” Helen Kominak of Salem said.

Angie and Rigo Castillo of Poland said they like looking for Halloween decorations, fall decorations and food.

“We like to come here every year and see what they have,” Angie said.

Jaclyn Vogliano of North Royalton said she and her friends like to look at the different clothing and the many homemade items.

Jessie Pelanda of Poland was with family visiting from Florida and checking out the dogs available for adoption at the Angels for Animals tent.

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