Roxborough: Residents Celebrate 7th Annual Roxtoberfest

Crowds and food trucks filled Ridge Avenue between Lyceum and Leverington avenues in Roxborough, in honor of the neighborhood’s 7th annual Roxtoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

Accordions and horns played classic German drinking songs, families stood in line for food trucks serving staples like cheesesteaks and tater tots, and nearly everywhere, people roamed the crowd with their festive dogs in tow.

“It also seemed like a great opportunity for people to get their dogs out and about, which was another highlight for our dance group,” said Paxton Beck, whose German dance group Schuhplattler Verein (auf Deutsch) performed during the event. “We’re all super big dog lovers.”

The event, which ran from noon until 6 p.m., was organized and executed by the Roxborough Development Corporation. The first Roxtoberfest occurred in 2012 and it is now a yearly event that gives neighbors a chance to come together and celebrate as a community.

“I like just seeing the sea of people from beginning to end with the mix of entertainment,” said John Boyce, president of the Friends of Gorgas Park. “It has a great flavor and great fall feel to it.”

Boyce has lived in Roxborough for 61 years and manned a table for Friends of Gorgas Park during the celebration.

Friends of Gorgas Park has a partnership with the Roxborough Development Corporation and advertised its main fall event, the Gorgas Park 2019 Harvest Festival, at Roxtoberfest.

Similar to the Roxborough Development Corporation’s efforts to revitalize Ridge Avenue, the Friends of Gorgas Park are also looking to build on to what it currently has in place at Gorgas Park.

“This is our 23rd year,” Boyce said. “Revitalization is kind of the theme.”

Carnival games sprinkled among the vendors along Ridge Avenue attracted children and adults alike. There were even two steinholding competitions that anyone 21 years or older could participate in. 

“The games for children and the bouncy houses are easily the main gimmick for kids, but the festival as a whole is so child friendly since it’s essentially mostly your neighborhood and community,” Beck said. “They shut down those particular streets for the day, so it’s absolutely safe.”

There were also several different live performances from groups like Polkadelphia, the Alpine Folk Dancers, and more.

“The particular people of Roxborough were very excitable though, and that’s easily the best part of dancing, when the crowd gets involved and excited,” Beck said. 

Roxtoberfest is focused on the neighborhood and many of the tables and vendors were local organizations, or businesses owned by residents from the general area.

“I always see my neighbors and people I have not seen for awhile,” said Susan Simon, a Central Roxborough Civic Association (CRCA) member who has lived in Roxborough for 25 years.

Celeste Hardester, the president of the CRCA who has lived in Roxborough for 32 years, stated that her and her colleagues’ goal for the day was to make the public aware of the CRCA while hopefully gaining some new members.

“It’s an opportunity for us to meet people who live in Roxborough who maybe don’t know we exist and also talk with people that we do know,” Hardester said.

Hardester also said that many Roxborough residents have lived in the neighborhood their whole life, and this is how it has been for as long as she can remember.

“When I moved here it felt like there were some people who were my age, but it felt like there were a lot of people that had been here for a few generations,” Hardester said.

Other vendors, like Valentine Chocolate Company, owned by Sandra Valentine, are newer Roxborough residents. Valentine has lived in Roxborough for about three years. 

“This is my first year coming as a vendor,” Valentine said. “I came last year as a patron.”

One of the biggest topics of discussion at Roxtoberfest was the hype around a new brewery, New Ridge Brewing Company, which is expected to open at 6168 Ridge Ave. in December. There were two large tents at either entrance to Roxtoberfest selling two of the new brewery’s beers.

John Bucher, who has lived in Roxborough for about four years, said that the new brewery could bring in a larger crowd of younger residents and make Roxborough more attractive for the next generation.

“With the New Ridge Brewery coming in ,and then there is another brewery coming up, I think it’s going to be the hot spot,” he said.

Hardester said Roxborough is a growing neighborhood and that the younger residents have already started to gravitate toward the area.

“It’s nice to see as many young adults and parents choosing to live here,” Hardester said. “It’s a nice evolution for the community.” 

Between the vendors, dancing, and dogs, Beck enjoyed her time at Roxtoberfest.

“I think it was an inviting day, the food was great, there were various forms of entertainment for everyone,” she said. “It was a welcoming environment, and what beats being able to come together as a community?”

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