Children are welcome at all the area Oktoberfests, but there's one especially for them -- the Kinderfest, or Children's Festival, at Watkins Park in Largo this Sunday. Adults are welcome, too, but the only beer available will be root beer.
"We had this big park here for people to come and enjoy, but we had never really had an event," says Joe Sharpless of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, who started the annual event three years ago. "We decided to do it in the fall, sort of an Oktoberfest, but we didn't want to deal with the problem of beer in the park. So we thought we'd do something a little different, focus in on a family-oriented, child-oriented program."
As Munich's Oktoberfest opens with a parade of beer hall waitresses and horse-drawn brewers' wagons, the Prince George's County Kinderfest will open at 11:45 a.m. Sunday with a parade of Disney characters and people dressed as Easter bunnies and teddy bears. On stage, there'll be an ever-changing panoply of clog dancers, puppet shows, a mini-circus, karate demonstrations, Scottish pipers, even a double-Dutch rope-jumping contest. The sports fans who aren't home or at D.C. Stadium watching the Redskins can take their choice of a football game, a soccer match, a tennis exhibition, a boxing demonstration or a volleyball tournament.
The people dressed as animals will be entertaining children all day, but there'll also be some real live animals. Sheep will be sheared and other farm animals will be available for petting. Ponies will take small visitors for rides either astride or in a buggy. For those partial to more exotic animals, a reptile show will play at 1 and 2.
Cider, that surefire indication that it's indeed autumn, will be pressed all day, and pumpkins, another fall harbinger, will be available for carving in a contest that gets under way at 3. And if your pumpkin doesn't win, you can have your own face decorated by a face painter.
The park's historic carousel -- rescued from the old amusement park at Chesapeake Beach -- will go round and round all day long, as will the miniature train. If you get hungry -- and you will -- spread a picnic on the grass or on one of the picnic tables. If you don't want to bring your own, there'll be plenty of food available from vendors: barbecue, hot dogs, ribs, sausages, Chinese egg rolls . . . Egg rolls? Munich was never like this. FINDING THE FEST -- From the Beltway, take Route 214 (Central Avenue) east to Enterprise Road. Turn right and follow the signs to the park. Admission is free, but there are small charges for some of the rides, shows and games. And food, of course.