St. John the Apostle Parish kicks off its 23rd annual German Oktoberfest this weekend, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday and then 10 a.m. on Saturday featuring international dishes, live entertainment and plenty of fun for the kids.

The scent of sauerkraut and merriment surrounding the preparation of authentic German and Polish dishes will fill the halls of St. John the Apostle Parish this week as members prepare for this weekend’s 23rd annual German Oktoberfest.

The event kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. with a performance by The Funsters and the festival’s diverse international food court. Not only does the festival feature German specialties, but also offers visitors Italian, Hispanic, Polish and Filipino dishes, as well as American favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers, and homemade desserts.

But it’s the smell of German authenticity that wafts through St. John’s days before the event begins.

At least half a dozen gallon-sized buckets of sauerkraut are prepared the day before the event, and many volunteers are needed to help peel, cook and prepare 150 pounds of potatoes for the German potato salad.

“It’s a lot of work, but the end result is worth it,” said Maggy McCole, who has been preparing the German sauerkraut and potato salad for the last 15 years. “When you’re preparing, you can’t wait until it’s done and you can dig in.”

All of the food is homemade and visitors won’t see any commercial vendors at the event, said Event Coordinator Bonnie De Mar.

“We have everything imaginable and it’s all done by the people working those booths,” De Mar said. “Our ladies and men cook it, the sauerkraut, the German potato salad, it’s all prepared right there.”

On Saturday the dishes continue, but the event also includes plenty of activities for children, as well as additional entertainment by the Milford Community Band at 10 a.m., Triple Shot at 6 p.m., Joe Kroboth and his German Orchestra in the afternoon, as well as German dancers and the McAleer School of Irish Dancers.

“There’s something there for everybody,” De Mar said. “The event is still to raise money, but one of the biggest things is the fellowship,” De Mar said. “It’s really a big family affair.”

Although admission to the event is free to the public, funds raised from additional food and merchandise purchases benefit St. John the Apostle Parish. Last year, the event grossed approximately $20,000, said volunteer Peggy DeMartin, putting a dent in the church’s new hall. This year the proceeds will benefit the church’s music program.

DeMartin said that while the event is the church’s largest fundraiser, the community support received continues to impress and grow throughout the 23 years she has participated in the event.

“The Milford community seems to really look forward to it and it’s nice to see some of the same people coming back and new people coming in and saying, ‘wow, look at all of these ethnic foods and entertainment.’ It’s the only venue like that,” she said. “Our church community rallies around together and comes together to pull this out. It’s a lot of fun, it’s exciting and we appreciate that the whole Milford community comes out and supports us.”