Mall merchants call Octoberfest a success

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Business owners and vendors say the 2003 Octoberfest was a success Saturday, especially during the middle of the day when the Centennial Mall was packed with onlookers and patrons of all ages.

Mary Walters paid for two booths at the festival where she sold many handmade crafts such as porcelain dolls, coin purses and an array of buttons her husband makes.

She said the Octoberfest was a main attraction for those without prior plans.

"If they can't get out of town, this is the place to be," Walters said.

Walters was particularly impressed with the weenie dog races.

"That was about the cutest thing I've ever seen," Walters said.

Walters said the winning dog was so eager to run that it revved up its legs well before its handler even let it loose.

"They couldn't even hardly hang onto him. He just wanted to go go go," Walters said.

Managers of established mall businesses said the event gave them an opportunity to increase their visibility among residents.

Curves, an exercise program for women, opened their doors to the crowds, showed off the hydraulic machines that are used during workouts.

"Once people try it, they're hooked. They'll join," said Andrea Flint, a fitness instructor at Curves.

"We're signing up two people right now," said owner Tammie Hanel.

Hanel said the business got the chance to pitch its message to interested women. The workout, Hanel said, isn't just a weight-loss technique but improves overall health and strengthens bones.

Owners of 3C's Card Shop at one point had to ask crowds of children to step outside because the packed room was distracting those participating in the Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament.

The card game attracts fanatics of all ages who buy and trade the cards, which depict fantasy characters. During a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, players pick cards from the deck they've collected and try to diminish each other's "life points."

The storefront and the shop itself was overrun with players eager to watch the tournament unfold, or peruse the shop's collection, which includes sports cards and Pokemon cards as well.

Part owner Oscar Losolla said the shop regularly holds sanctioned Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments on Saturdays. It also hosts "Magic The Gathering" tournaments on Friday nights at 4 p.m.

One player in the shop, Jack Smith, said he had spent more than $3,000 on his collection of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic cards.

In other competition at the festival, Blake Abdella won the Ping-Pong tournament after beating Mark Sullivan for the championship. Twenty-four players signed up to compete.

Abdella said he faced some stiff competition on his way to the title. Abdella received a trophy and will see his name engraved on a plaque that will record the name of each year's champion.

The tournament benefited the Craig Women's Hockey team, the "Puck Ewes."

Charlene Abdella, a Puck Ewe team member, said the proceeds will help the women to buy goalie equipment and jerseys. The team travels around the state to participate in tournaments. Charlene Abdella said they have entered tournaments in Vail, Breckenridge, Vernal, Utah, and a big tournament in Denver on Mother's Day. She said the women will sponsor a tournament in Craig in February.

Outside the mall, enthusiasts lined up for the People's Choice Car & Motorcycle Show.

Woody and Marjean Potts traveled to Craig from Vernal, to show off their 1971 Dodge Charger.

The couple explained to curious onlookers the complicated painting process that achieved the black and purple marbled look.

The Potts' car won nine trophies at 15 car shows this summer. They saw an Octoberfest flyer and decided to close out the season with one more show.

Their car lost by one vote to a blue 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback owned by Chuck Eschenburg.

Mall director Vicky Hall said she was pleased with the turnout for

the festival.

"I think it's turned out to be a great day. And with Homecoming last night, that was a great thing to kick off

from."

Hall did say she anticipates more heats of the weenie dog races next year so people can see more of the popular attraction.

"People really wanted to watch those again," Hall said.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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