MIDLOTHIAN

Scott Koelker considers himself something of a beer guy. That’s why he’s looking forward to the stein-hoisting competition the most at this weekend’s Oktoberfest.

Hosted annually by the Heroes of Midlothian Foundation, this year’s 4th annual Oktoberfest will be 4 p.m. Saturday at the Midlothian Conference Center. The festival has free admission and an assortment of $1 ticket purchases for food, drinks and carnival games. The festival also has a silent auction, where raffle tickets cost $5 each or $20 for five.

In the past three years, the Foundation has given out over $45,000 in educational scholarships and assistance to families of first responders and military veterans, according to its website. Koelker, who serves on the board of directors, said Oktoberfest is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“We use Oktoberfest almost exclusively to fund our scholarship program,” Koelker said. “The silent auction and the raffle go to fund our scholarship, then the remainder of the proceeds goes towards our first responder grant programs.”

One thing some attendees from previous festivals might notice this year is the absence of a mechanical bull. In the past, the foundation provided a mechanical bull for participants to test their bull-riding skills. Instead, the foundation is investing in a larger bounce house area for this year’s festival.

“Not many people rode it to be quite honest,” he said. “It was a huge expense, so we funneled that money into a larger outdoor area for the kids.”

Additionally, the festival has a Biergarten (or beer garden), available where attendees can enjoy their first beer free on the house. Koelker said the stein-hoisting competition is returning as well, where participants test how long they can hold out their beer stein in front of them.

“The crowd always likes it,” Koelker said. “I think last year we had like 16 people get involved with it.”

From the beer to the bounce houses, Koelker said he looks forward to Oktoberfest because it’s a festival residents of all ages can enjoy for the benefit of the community’s first responders.

“You know the money you’re spending there is going towards a good cause: not to pay someone’s salary,” Koelker said.

To learn more about the foundation and this year’s Oktoberfest, go online at www.heroesofmidlothian.org.

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David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX

469-517-1456