QUINCY -- Joan Sturhahn's grandfather, John Joseph Daegele, used to be a brewmaster in the late 1800s at Quincy's Dick Brothers Brewery in the 900 block of York Street.
On Saturday, Mrs. Sturhahn, 87, and a group of her relatives celebrated their connection to Quincy's brewery heritage by taking part in the Rotary Club of Quincy's seventh annual Oktoberfest. The event is carried out each year in the shadow of the historic Dick Brothers Brewery, which opened in 1857 and eventually went out of business in the early 1950s.
Nearly a dozen Daegele-related family members from as far away at Seattle and California came to Oktoberfest in good spirits Saturday afternoon, with several them wearing specially made Dick Brothers Brewery T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of John Joseph Daegele.
Some of the family members -- including Mrs. Sturhahn, who was in a wheelchair -- even took part in the "0.2K Beer and Brat Dash," a friendly competition that requires participants to eat a bratwurst and drink a beer before crossing the finish line. Mrs. Sturhahn did her best to complete the challenge while being pushed along the race course by her son, Steve, who is a member of the Rotary Club.
Watching the festive action from the sidelines with a big smile on her face was one of Mrs. Sturhahn's daughters, Ann Scott of Quincy, who had never before attended Oktoberfest until Saturday's family gathering.
"It took my cousins from Seattle to get me here," Scott said. "I think it's really awesome."
Oktoberfest drew a big crowd of people. Many were attracted to the event's German food, craft beer tastings, tours of the brewery's underground tunnels and festive music provided by Quincy's Heidelberg German Band, which performed in the afternoon, and the Uber Cool Band, which performed in the evening.
"Things are going great. The weather cooperated," said Tracy Orne, co-chairman of Oktoberfest, which raises money to aid a number of community service projects supported by the Rotary Club.
Orne said many people come to Oktoberfest each year simply because it's fun and offers a glimpse into Quincy's colorful brewery heritage, which featured more than a dozen breweries back in the 1800s. Dick Brothers Brewery was the largest of them all.
A newly remodeled portion of the brewery, dubbed the Rathskeller, was opened for the first time Saturday for a beer-tasting event. "That area hasn't been open to the public in like 100 years," Orne said.
Holly Cain, a Rotary member who helped out at the beer-tasting event, said plans call for developing the Rathskeller into a bar to be opened in the future for special events.
Cain, who also serves as director of the Quincy Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Oktoberfest has become a popular annual event that attracts visitors to Quincy from far and wide.
"It's not just for locals," she said. "We've got a motorcoach tour with about 100 people here."
Sue Cox, a Quincy native, traveled from her home in Cartersville, Ga., to experience Oktoberfest for the first time.
"I'm excited that I finally got to see it," she said.
Cox, who is a member of five historic preservation organizations, said she's glad to see Quincy preserving and celebrating the buildings in the Dick Brothers Brewery complex, which is part of Quincy's Brewery Area Local Historic District.
"I believe in the preservation of history," Cox said.
Tracy Hagman and her niece, Lexi Obert, also were enjoying their time at Oktoberfest, where they both worked as volunteers to help make the event a success.
"We love supporting Rotary," Hagman said. "It's such a great service organization for our community, and this event is just great. There's something to do for everyone. Great food. Great family time."
Obert said she was glad to get a chance to have fun while learning about Quincy's brewery history, considering it was an industry that impacted hundreds of German immigrant families that lived in the surrounding Calftown neighborhood.
"I'm 22. So as a younger person, I don't know all the history," she said. "So things like this are awesome for us -- that we can go to these things and bring that heritage down to the younger generation."