NORTH WINDHAM – More than 3,000 people attended the inaugural Octoberfest in North Windham on Saturday, Oct. 13, with more than $20,000 in donations raised for the Community Coin Challenge, a fundraiser for local food pantries.

“It was phenomenal. It beat my expectations,” said organizer Sheri Huff, a member of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event. “The crowd was unbelievable. We were getting crowds an hour before the event was even starting, and they stayed until dark.”

The event had several parts, all centered in parking lots running from Buck’s Naked BBQ to Lee’s Auto Mall in North Windham. The first was Octoberfest, which was a free family fun day with more than 32 businesses from the Chamber giving out free products and services. Chair massages, nail art, apple bobbing, hot dogs and sausage sandwiches were just some of the free goodies local businesses and organizations offered.

The second was the Community Coin Challenge, which was a 10-week effort culminating with a final tally at Octoberfest. So far, the running total exceeds the Huff’s goal of $20,000. However, not all jars have been returned so the grand total, Huff said, won’t be known until next week. All proceeds will be distributed to food pantries in the 10 towns the Chamber serves. They will be distributed according to the number of families served in each town.

“We’ve hit the $20,000 mark and there’s still 50-60 jars out there that we’re still waiting to collect,” Huff reported Tuesday.

The event also incorporated several contests. The Sebago Lakes Rotary Club’s Chili & Chowder Challenge was won by Naples-based The Galley Restaurant, which won the chowder portion of the contest with its Loaded Lobster Bisque. Stephen Hohman, owner of Fortis Solutions in Windham, was the chili contest winner with his Cuban Chili.

The Lakes Region Weekly and Cumberland County Federal Credit Union jointly sponsored a coloring contest, which had two categories: Winners included: Brady Martin, 5 (third place); Anna Seavey, 6 (third place); Katie Martin, 3 (second place); Samantha (no last name given), 10 (second place); Amber Sands, 4 (first place); and Brooke Toole, 8 (first place). Each winner received a Walmart gift card donated by Scott’s Disposal Service of Windham.

Due to its success, Huff said Octoberfest would likely be a recurring event.

“There were 32 businesses who stepped up to the plate, and they all have said they want to come back next year,” Huff said. “The feedback they got from people that came was just unbelievable. The people said they were appreciative of the day, and that everything was free. I got a lot of real nice comments, which was really nice to hear.”

Colby Connolly arrives at the Gorham Savings Bank counting trailer to hand in a jar of money for the Community Coin Challenge to benefit food banks in the Lake Region. Colby and his sister, Meghan, got their donation the old-fashioned way – they earned it, doing a variety of chores.   
The Sebago Lake Rotary Club’s Chili & Chowder Challenge was won by Naples-based The Galley Restaurant, which won the chowder portion of the contest with its Loaded Lobster Bisque. Stephen Hohman, owner of Fortis Solutions in Windham, was the chili contest winner with his Cuban Chili. From left are Hohman, Rotary president Steve McFarland, and The Galley’s owners Matt and Meghann Sullivan.   
 
Cyndy Bell of the Lakes Region Weekly dispenses a selection of savory soups and chowdahs at the Octoberfest.
The parking lot at Buck’s Naked BBQ in North Windham was a hopping place last Saturday with Octoberfest taking over the area.   


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