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Oktoberfest Draws Locals, Not Students

By Adam A. Sofen, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

About 50,000 people crowded Harvard and Brattle squares Sunday afternoon for the food, shopping and entertainment of the squares' annual Oktoberfest street fair.

The event--organized by the Harvard Square Business Association--included almost 200 vendors, about 50 of whom were businesses from Harvard Square.

Several performance spaces featured singers, street performers, artists and puppeteers.

"This is our tribute to the season," said Cynthia A. Miller, associate director of the business association.

There was one student group among the participants, a table promoting "An Evening with Champions"--a student-run ice skating benefit that will be held on Oct. 24, 25 and 26.

"We sold a few tickets and passed out a lot of flyers, so hopefully it will be worthwhile in the end," said Kristin T. Gilliss '99, a volunteer.

Gilliss said she was unsure why other groups did not set up tables at the fair. She added that most organizations may not have realized it would be a useful promotional opportunity.

Few students joined in the festivities, which attracted out-of-town visitors and families, said event organizer Miller.

"I don't think that such a large percentage are college-age students," she said.

Many students said they didn't know the event was coming.

"I heard something about it, but I didn't pay too much attention," said Samantha N. Bent '01.

"I didn't know anything about it," said Jerome L. Martin '01, who said he spent almost 45 minutes at the fair.

Martin said he particularly enjoyed the Jolly Kopperschmidts German Band, which performed in front of Holyoke Center.

"I loved the Boston accents with the German songs," he said.

The Kopperschmidts have played their mixture of traditional German songs, polkas and American favorites like "It's a Small World" at Oktoberfest for three years, said Manager George M. Melikian.

"I think it's going very good," Melikian said. "It's a pleasure playing for these kinds of people."

The Oktoberfest began in 1978 as a small beer bash. It has since expanded beyond its German roots, with Tibetan, Indian and Chinese food and international musical acts.

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