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Bull Valley celebrates 40th anniversary with annual Oktoberfest

A member of German oompah band Die Musikmeisters entertains the crowd during Bull Valley's third annual Oktoberfest celebration to mark the village's 40th anniversary Sunday.
A member of German oompah band Die Musikmeisters entertains the crowd during Bull Valley's third annual Oktoberfest celebration to mark the village's 40th anniversary Sunday.

BULL VALLEY – The village of Bull Valley celebrated its 40th anniversary with an Oktoberfest celebration, complete with bratwurst, beer and, of course, lederhosen.

Village and county residents convened with local vendors Sunday on the grounds of the historic George Stickney House for the third annual Bull Valley Oktoberfest.

The event drew hundreds of attendees, including octogenarian Berdine Priegnitz, who lived in the Stickney House and farmed the land from 1957 to 1965. When her husband died, Priegnitz and her son, Bill Krage, moved to Crystal Lake. Decades later, the mother and son returned with family members to celebrate the anniversary of the village and the history it has provided the local community.

The community was well-represented with several vendors, including Moontime Smokin’ Que of Crystal Lake, which offered smoked meat tacos and German-inspired food, and MJ’s Coffee Bar of McHenry, which provided cider, burgers and bratwurst.

Dale and Ellen Morton, representing McHenry County College and the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation board, discussed scholarships for students and the forthcoming science building addition.

Colorful mums from Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery and Garden Center were for sale, alongside Operation Wild Horse, a Bull Valley-based nonprofit that provides horseback riding to veterans. One of the horses, Padré, was on-site to “sign” a children’s book written in his honor.

The mustang stallion is the first and only wild horse to win the prestigious Dressage at Devon, under the direction of equestrian Patti Gruber, and has a Breyer horse to his likeness.

Gruber owns and operates the Bull Valley Equestrian Center, at which Operation Wild Horse is based. The organization gives back to Bull Valley and the surrounding community by helping active-duty military and veterans.

“Operation Wild Horse is all about harnessing the healing power of horses,” said Jim Welch, president of the organization. “We help veterans and active-duty military in the community overcome their own challenges by working with horses who have also been given a second chance.”

As children and adults alike lined up for Padré’s autograph, the musical stylings of German oompah band Die Musikmeisters floated over the grounds. The band members, dressed in lederhosen, sang and played cowbells, an accordion, clarinets and the alphorn. The crowd cheered along and raised their glasses of local craft beer from Crystal Lake Brewing and Scorched Earth Brewing Co.

Oktoberfest is sponsored by the Stickney House Foundation, and proceeds from the event will benefit the foundation.

The Stickney House was built in 1865 and currently houses village offices and the police department. This year, the foundation hopes to complete restoration of the ballroom in the historic building.

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