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Lodi Tokay Rotary Club’s Oktoberfest raises funds for Lodi Memorial Hospital

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Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011 12:11 pm | Updated: 7:32 am, Fri Oct 18, 2013.

The smell of freshly cooked bratwurst wafted through the doorway as Louis Ettlin and Mary Reichmuth strolled in with a fresh mug of ice-cold beer.

Ettlin, from Lockeford, was dressed in a crisply pressed white shirt and black lederhosen embroidered with yellow, blue and red flowers.

Made in Pennsylvania and modeled after the outfits worn by native Germans, Ettlin's outfit is valued at more than $500 dollars, and he has worn it to nearly 20 different Oktoberfests this year.

"Let me tell you a little secret," he said, leaning forward, his eyes peeking over the silver rims of his glasses. "I haven't stained these clothes, so I have never washed them. They have seen dozens of Oktoberfests, and I hope to have them see a hundred more."

He has been attending every Oktoberfest he can up and down the west coast for the past five years, and Reichmuth, with her equally authentic German dress and apron, has accompanied him to nearly every one.

Ettlin and Reichmuth were just two of the hundreds of people to come out to celebrate good beer and good music at the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club's Oktoberfest on Saturday night.

Treated to authentic German food including cheese buttons — a doughy pastry of cheese and onions — and a hearty amount of Spaten beer, people from as far as Fremont danced the polka and drank the night away as they paid tribute to their German roots.

But highlighting Deutschland was not the only reason to head out to the club's celebration on Saturday.

The event was also a fundraiser for the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Each ticket purchased at Saturday night's event would go directly to the foundation to help fund various aspects of the hospital, from supplies to caregiving services.

According to Rob Wotton, the vice president of both the foundation and the hospital, the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club is one of the hospital's most generous supporters.

Last year's sold-out Oktoberfest raised roughly $10,000 for the hospital, and this year event organizers are hoping to repeat that amount, said rotary treasurer Scott Daskao.

Event organizers were planning for a sold-out event again this year, hoping to match the donations they made to the foundation last year.

This time, Wotton is hoping funds will be able to be put towards "hot spot" areas such as obstetrics and gynecology and urgent care, which he said will need the most financial support.

Lodi's Oktoberfest first became an annual celebration in the 1960s, but died out about 20 years ago, said rotary president Mark Hamilton.

In 2005, Hamilton said the rotary resurrected the event, and ever since then it has drawn huge crowds who enjoy lots of polka dancing and eat every last bite of the chicken schnitzel, Germany's traditional version of fried chicken.

"I started cooking in Stockton at 6:30 a.m. this morning," he said as he nursed a St. Pauli Girl beer. "But it is worth it. Good beer and good people all out to help a good cause. This is what our Oktoberfest is all about."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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