Dozens of community members gathered to eat and drink at the Baldwin Civic Association’s fourth annual Oktoberfest and Marketplace last Saturday after a two-year, coronavirus-forced hiatus.
The civic association invited several Long Island breweries and the Irish Pub to participate, and they offered German-themed food and craft beer, and were joined by other vendors at the Baldwin Community Garden on Grand Avenue for the afternoon event.
Vendors and brewers set up booths along the perimeter of the garden, and guests and their children played games such as large versions of Connect Four and Jenga. Adult guests were given small beer steins for sampling the brewed offerings on a warm autumn day.
Civic association member Brunhilda Alvarado, who had a booth at which she was selling popcorn, explained that she was raising funds for the Baldwin High School Senior Scholarship Fund, which usually makes its major money-raising effort at the Grand Baldwin Festival. Due to the remnants of Hurricane Ian on Oct. 1, however, the festival was postponed until April, but Alvarado said she wanted to get started on raising funds for the students long before then.
“This is big for the community,” she said. “Baldwin doesn’t really have too many signature events.”
One of the day’s highlights was a stein holding contest — a Bavarian tradition in which competitors hold a full 1-liter beer stein out in front of them for as long as possible. Sharon Bonelli of Rockville Centre, and John Zingale of Baldwin outlasted the other contestants in the women’s and men’s competition, respectively, and won a case of beer from each brewery.
Alexa Aguila, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Baldwin Middle School and a budding entrepreneur who owns Alexa’s Workshop, manned a booth of her own, selling craft jewelry with her older sister, Kimberly, for the first time.
“We got in contact with the civic association and figured we should try,” Kimberly said. “Once we walked in, everyone was welcoming, and made us feel a part of this event, as if we we’ve been doing this for a while.”
The breweries — Lithology Brewing Company and Jones Beach Brewing Company, from Farmingdale, South Shore Craft Brewery and Long Beach Brewing Company, from Oceanside, and Barnshed Brewing, in Hicksville — each offered two craft beers they selected for the event.
Paul Sweeney and Owen Mireles, of Smithtown, said they made the trip to Baldwin because they were excited about trying Lithology’s beers after seeing the event advertised on Lithology’s Instagram page. The pair said they had been to many other Oktoberfest events, and were happily surprised by the homey feel of the marketplace in Baldwin.
“It’s like a big block party,” Sweeney said. “Its really nice to see this community come together for drinks.”
Chris Mills, CEO and founder of Jones Beach Brewing Company, a tenant brewer at Lithology, said that their flagship beer — the Jones Inlet IPA — comes in the first can to have a tide chart printed on the side. The IPA is the company’s first beer, Mills explained, adding that he was proud of it for several reasons.
“First of all is our horseshoe crab logo, because we support their preservation,” he said. “Secondly, the can calls awareness to the dredging effort in the inlet,” where there have been a number of boating accidents.”
Mills was referring to dredging in the Jones Beach Inlet, which started this month. Elected officials including Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Kathleen Rice have called for dredging in the channel for the past two years, because the inlet is filling up with sand and sediment, creating areas of dangerously shallow waters for boaters, some of whom have run aground.
Mills said he put the tide chart on the IPA can to help boaters navigate the inlet safely at high tide, but not while driving.