Hoards of people recently bustled down Lyceum Avenue in Roxborough for the first ever Roxtoberfest.
With dunk tanks, face painting, live music and a moon bounce, the event was suited not only to adults over 21, as the name suggests, but to people of all ages.
While adults stood by the beer garden tasting a variety of seasonal beers, children danced under a tent next to the stage where the band played a slew of original songs. Parents ordered food from a couple of the parked trucks while their children enjoyed time on the moon bounce or tried their arm at the dunk tank.
The idea started as an extension of a new bike race that was rescheduled and redesigned to be more family-friendly.
“It was all about the drinking.” said Bernard Guet, executive director of Roxborough Development Corp. “Now it’s about the family.”
The Roxborough Development Corp. is a non-profit organization that aims at maintaining the unique aspects of Roxborough through community involvement with entrepreneurial groups. It’s small office, off Ridge Avenue, is located right up the street from where Roxtoberfest took place. It got involved with Roxtoberfest back in June when it was decided that the event would be family oriented. Because the primary goal of the Roxborough Development Corp. is to connect residents with local businesses, the corporation saw the event as a great opportunity for its purpose. Originally, it had planned on doing a slightly larger festival, which would close down part of Ridge Avenue, the main road in Roxborough directly adjacent to Lyceum, but after the Boston Marathon bombing, many local officials questioned whether or not the fest would be a good idea.
“We said, ‘Why don’t we just try a small festival with just a corner blocked off,’” Guet said. “One thing led to another thing and we got more excited about it. We sold out the number of tables at the event. We had to say no to people.”
Lyceum Avenue was chosen over Ridge Avenue not only for the sake of concerned local officials but also because it’s significantly wider and less ridden with traffic. Locating the fest on a side street rather than Ridge Avenue allowed for a smaller fest with less traffic headaches.
Numerous businesses and organizations were present at the event. Among the stands scattered along Lyceum Avenue were Roxborough Memorial Hospital, Sherwin Williams, The Foodery, Penn Distributors and the biggest sponsor, East River Bank. Each business or organization brought a different element to the fest. While Western & Southern Life provided the dunk tank, Roxborough Memorial Hospital provided health screenings.
The businesses participating in Roxtoberfest paid only a small fee to have a table at the event so that they could show what they had and promote it. The Roxborough Development Corp. recruited those businesses by going to various places and asking localities if they would be interested in a table representation. The Roxborough Development Corp. partnered with Advent, the producer of Roxtoberfest. The Roxborough Development Corp. was present at Roxtoberfest distributing T-shirts and helping with affairs.
The Roxborough Development Corp. has other plans in store as well. For the holidays, it always has myriad activities to celebrate the season. This year, it plans to host an event in which it invites a bunch of local businesses to a seasonal party. It also plans to give decorations to those businesses so that they can adorn their windows with an assortment of winter ornamentation. In addition to these, it also plans to have Santa Claus ride down Ridge Avenue to help bring holiday cheer to the residents.
The Corp., however, does not just plan funfests and holiday events in its spare time. The group is very active in work that helps to improve both the aesthetics and functionality of the Roxborough community. The group participates in things such as planting flowers, re-doing sidewalks, cleaning streets and other work that serves Roxborough as a whole. Its work with local businesses is also utilized through the renovation of old buildings to be sold or rented to existing or growing local businesses.
When asked about some of the issues the organization faces, Guet said, “Three things. First, the money. Second, the money. And third, the money.”
Guet explained that the organization used to receive grants from the city, state and federal government, but now has no funding whatsoever. Places like Manayunk, he explained, have it a little easier because they can make money off things such as parking. Roxborough is not as fortunate. Events like Roxtoberfest are beneficial to the organization because, although it is a nonprofit organization, it is a great way to make money for the necessities of running the operations it does to improve the town.
For more information on The Roxborough Development Corp. visit: www.roxborough.us.