Festival celebrates responsible drinking

Enter the “Room of Doom” with the grim reaper. - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Enter the “Room of Doom” with the grim reaper.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Mixing German lore, creative gaming (boozeketball) and the seriousness of drunk driving, OkSOBERfest’s spin on the traditional bier-driven Oktoberfest is designed to promote safe choices about DUI and underage drinking, in a fun way.

The Oak Harbor Elks Lodge will contain a root beer garden and “mocktails,” or non-alcoholic drinks and punches, Thursday, Oct. 16. The event is targeted at teens and adults, who can play games such as The Wheel of Misfortune, Carpe Keyum and Toss Your Cookies (literally tossing chocolate chip cookies into a bucket for prizes). A local oompah band will provide the polka.

For boozeketball, people will be equipped with impairment goggles and will try making shots at a basket. The goggles will also be used for mock sobriety tests.

“A trooper and deputy will tap people on the shoulder and say, ‘I saw you drifting,’” JoAnn Hellmann, director of the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County, said.

For a Halloween vibe, the grim reaper will lead people into the “Room of Doom” where the walls are lined with graphic photos of local car crashes.

The consequences of drunk driving, Hellmann said, become very real.

“It’s a scared straight kind of thing, it’s emotion based. When you see the photos, you say ‘Hey, that happened down the street from where I live’,” Hellmann said.

There will be door prizes every 10 minutes and game prizes, such as movie passes and milkshake coupons. The silent auction and gift baskets will include Seattle attractions and San Juan excursions. Hellmann said some baskets will contain bottles of wine.

“We want people to know that we’re not against drinking, we just want them to be responsible,” she said.

Auction tickets are $5 and will include five raffle tickets. OkSOBERfest is from 6 to 8 p.m. and for more information visit or call 675-8397.

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