St. John the Evangelist Parish hosts its 11th annual St. John Oktoberfest this month. 

Oktoberfest founder and co-chairman Greg Schilling said the event started with about 75 people and has doubled every year. About 3,000 to 4,000 people are expected to come out the weekend of Sept. 22 to 24.

"It's a good time of the year and when all the summertime festivals have ended," he said. "It's a great community-relaxing, authentic German gathering."

Schilling said Oktoberfest is a parish event but those who helped put it together also belong to other local Christian churches. He said the fest draws people from Illinois and Chesterton. Schilling said he's had people in town from Germany who attended and called it not only authentic but "one of the best ones in the states."

Presented in the church parking lot at 9400 Wicker Ave., Oktoberfest features a bier garden, live music and authentic German beer and food. Family fun activities include pumpkin decorating, face painting, a bounce house, bean bags and, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 23, a fire truck featuring Jake the Fire Dog.

Schilling said attendees who bring their own German beer stein can have it filled with German beer and only pay the refill price.

Live music acts include longtime Oktoberfest bands Indy Polkamotion and German Band Inc., as well as the Ed Wagner Band and Jimmy Sarr.

The food menu includes wienerschnitzel, bratwurst, noodles and kraut, Bavarian pretzels, Black Forest cake, German chocolate cake, hot German potato salad and more.

Two large TVs will be playing NFL and college football games for sports fans. 

"It's a nice event the whole family is welcome to come out to," co-chairman Karl Mastalski said. "It's a really good time."

Festival hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 22, noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 23 and noon to 8 p.m. Sept. 24. While admission and parking are free, food and beverages are available for purchase.

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Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.