MIDLOTHIAN — As leaves change color and cozy sweaters are pulled from storage, the Heroes of Midlothian Foundation will unfold the fall spirit with its third annual Oktoberfest this weekend.

“This year, we’re doing all kinds of neat things,” expressed Heroes of Midlothian Treasurer Toby Gonzalez of the event planned for Saturday, Oct. 14. “It’s a family-friendly, come-and-go event, and this year we’ll have a lot more to keep people around.”

Continuing its four-year support of local law enforcement, firefighters, and military veterans, the foundation is a known non-profit that provides both short and long-term aid to Midlothian families experiencing hardships, loss, or injury.

It also provides educational scholarships, strategic community grants, and outreach programs, all of which the event will help support and fund.

“This is a great way for our community to come together and get to know each other,” Gonzalez encouraged. “Midlothian is growing leaps and bounds, and this is just a good way to support a really great cause.”

“We’ve been around since 2013, and in that time period we’ve given back over $40,000, so we’re pretty happy with that track record, and we want to keep that going,” added Scott Koelker, Heroes of Midlothian board member. “Everyone chips in and does their part to make this happen.”

“We’re all volunteers, so we maximize the impact of the dollars that we generate,” he emphasized that the funds raised from the festival will go towards those in need.

“All of the funds that we raise will stay here in Ellis County,” Gonzalez affirmed. “Plus, Oktoberfest is free admission and a perfect way for the whole family to have a great time.”

From carnival games to obstacle courses, bounce houses, and a mechanical bull - the festival won’t have a dull moment to spare at the Midlothian Conference Center.

“One of our board members has been working and making all of these games for the kids, and he’s very talented, so we have a ton of games for the kids,” Gonzalez affirmed. “And of course, we’ll have the big inflatable rockslide, an obstacle course, the duck pond game, bowling, the Plinko game, and so much more.”

“It’s got that great small town feel, so it’s definitely a family-first event,” Koelker jumped in. “But my personal favorite is probably the Stein Hoisting competition where we line people up with glass mugs, and they have to hold it out in full toast.

“And whoever can hold it the longest, wins a three-foot tall trophy and a ceramic German Stein. We started it last year, and we had a nine-minute record, so we’re hoping this year to get over the ten-minute mark,” he urged competitors to take the challenge.

Gonzalez also mentions the festival will additionally include a raffle drawing and an all-day silent auction with irresistible items to win.

“We have a silent auction going right now with some cool items like an official locker from the Longhorn Locker company, and they do all of the Dallas Cowboy locker rooms, University of Texas, and this one will be in TCU colors, so that’ll be a big deal,” Gonzalez described.

“We’ll also have a raffle that will fund our scholarship program. So we give out two scholarships per year, and they’re four-year scholarships of $4,000. So we’ve given out $16,000 in scholarships thus far, where 100 percent of the raffle proceeds go back to the scholarship program,” she noted.

And a festival wouldn’t be anything without an exceptional drink and food lineup, as Koelker goes on to include Deep Ellum Dallas Blonde, Ziegenbock, Bud Light, brats, hot dogs, potato salad, chips, pretzels, nachos, and the list goes on.

Acknowledging their sponsors, Both Gonzalez and Koelker thank Holcim, Superior, Monaco, Showtech, Bobcat, United Rentals, Rally Sportswear, Gingerbread Press, Straight Shot, Lakeridge Self Storage, Arlington Elks Lodge, Andrea Walton State Farm, Hilco Electric, and Ross Orthodontic for being apart.

“We work really hard, and all of our sponsors and volunteers who do this are amazing. We’ll have well-over 50 volunteers from the community helping us run games and take food orders,” Gonzalez further articulated. “Pretty much everybody you’ll see there in the heroes t-shirts is a volunteer, and we’re so grateful for each one.”

With over 3,000 people in attendance last year, Gonzalez is confident the festival will be a third-time hit and invites the community to join in the fall celebration.

“The more people that know about us, the more we can help because that is the sole purpose of why we do this,” Gonzalez summed up. “So come out and have some fun with us, see all of your friends, and do it for a good reason.”

Oktoberfest 2017 is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14 from 4 – 10 p.m. at the Midlothian Conference Center on First Community Drive. Admission is free. Raffle tickets will be sold $5 per ticket or five tickets for $20. For more information, visit heroesofmidlothian.org/oktoberfest.

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Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer

(469)-517-1450