Oktoberfest to benefit Flint River Red Cross

ALBANY -- While area partiers are finding more and more places and events where they can let their hair down lately, there's only one place in Southwest Georgia where they can strap on their lederhosen, throw back a few German beers, listen to good old-time rock and roll favorites Relapse and get their Chicken Dance on.

That all goes down Oct. 23 when the American Red Cross Flint River Chapter presents its second Oktoberfest at the Veterans Park Amphitheater downtown.

In addition to the aforementioned popular beverage -- and its cousin, classic German wine -- attendees will have an opportunity to enjoy authentic German cuisine, satisfy their thirst at a cash bar and participate in a silent auction. All to help the Flint River Red Cross chapter, as Director of Philanthropy Mari Wright aptly puts it, "Do what we do."

And what the Red Cross does is nothing short of miraculous. Its volunteers are on 24-7 standby to provide immediate emergency assistance in the wake of catastrophic events. Whether its providing shelter, clothing, food or counseling in the first 24 to 48 hours after an emergency, the Red Cross is always there.

"Oktoberfest is our big fundraiser, and we rely on the generosity of the communities that we serve for the funds that allow us to provide our services free of charge," Wright said. "We provide the immediate emergency care and refer victims to other agencies for long-range assistance, and we're the only recognized organization that provides communications opportunities for our armed forces and their families."

While proceeds from Oktoberfest II will help the local Red Cross chapter provide vital services to those in need, it will also give area fun-lovers a chance to dance to some of the greatest music ever created as played by the region's favorite party band, Relapse, which was a hit at last year's festival.

"We are very pleased this year to have Central Monitoring as a sponsor for Oktoberfest," Wright said. "(Company owner) Judy Randle had such a great time at last year's event she came on board to help us put on this year's Oktoberfest. She's just a good person who is very involved in the community."

Randle said her involvement is part of its ongoing efforts to make the community a better place.

"The main reason I attended Oktoberfest last year was to hear the Relapse band perform," she said. "Their music is fantastic. It was also an opportunity to get together with friends for a great time, increase awareness of the importance of the Red Cross and help raise money to support the community in times of need.

"Oktoberfest has the potential to become a signature event for the Red Cross. Over 300 people attended last year, and our goal is to have 500 this year. We at Central Monitoring are dedicated to making our

community a better place, and we can't think of a better way to run our business than by being dedicated to the safety of our families, friends and neighbors here in Albany and Southwest Georgia."

Among the more than 100 items up for grabs in the silent auction are two separate fishing trips, a weekend stay at a condo in Panama City and donated items from vendors throughout the region.

Advance tickets for Oktoberfest, which are available at the Flint River chapter's Albany (500 Pine Ave.) and Americus (1509 Crawford St.) offices, are $25. A few reserved tables, which seat eight, are still available for $250. Tickets will be $30 at the door.

"In addition to our emergency services, we're also offering more health and safety classes," Wright said. "Certified staff are teaching CPR, first aid, swimming and lifeguarding classes, and we have a registered RN teaching certified nursing assistant classes.

"We're also constantly updating our disaster plans and training new volunteers to replenish our roster. And since we get no government funding, it's important that we generate support through fundraisers like Oktoberfest."

Oktoberfest II kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. For additional information, call the Flint River Red Cross chapter at (229) 436-4845.