By Alex Robinson
College Point beer drinkers will be able to soak up some history while supporting a cultural institution in dire need of financial help at the Poppenhusen Institute’s annual Oktoberfest Sept. 13.
The Poppenhusen Institute, at 114-04 14th Road, will take attendees back to the pre-Prohibition era, when the population of the neighborhood would double on weekends as beer drinkers would flock to dozens of beer gardens that littered the area.
“So we’re recreating that part of the College Point history,” said Susan Brustmann, the institute’s executive director, . “People can come to enjoy music, activities and beer.”
The event is one of a number of annual events the institute started to hold to rake in much-needed donations after it stopped receiving state funding a few years ago.
“It’s been very difficult,” Brustmann said. “It has a very rich and important history, but we are not restoring this museum to be a shrine to the past. It is a living museum and has a ton of great programs.”
Brustmann said she hopes the institute will be able to raise $10,000 through the event, but that is only a portion of the $80,000 it needs to plug its budget holes.
The Oktoberfest event is geared more toward adults, but is also a family affair as it will have face painting, a clown and a number of other activities for children.
Tours of the institute will be given, including old village jail cells in the building. Presentations about the history of Shea Stadium and the 1939 World’s Fair will also take place inside.
The rest of the entertainment will be outside, where German singers and dancers will perform and a band called Twin Gold will take to the stage to play songs from the 1950s and ’60s.
Beer drinkers will have the choice between a special Oktoberfest brew and Coors Light, which will be provided by Manhattan Beer Distributors.
There will also be German food on offer from a food cart and apple strudel from Zum Stammtisch, a German restaurant in Glendale.
The institute will also have a competition to see who can hold a beer stein the longest with an outstretched arm.
“We challenge all the big strong guys to come out and see if they can beat the record,” Brustmann said.
The building was built in 1868 and funded by Conrad Poppenhusen, a German philanthropist and the founder of College Point. It was the site of the first free kindergarten in the United States and now serves as a community center. Poppenhusen will be brought to life at the event, as an actor will be in character as the late entrepreneur.
Tickets for the event, which will run from noon to 6 p.m., cost $15 and all proceeds will go to the historic institute. Children who are 5 and younger get in for free.
“Come out and drink a glass of beer with Conrad Poppenhusen,” Brustmann said.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.