EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — A HAZMAT evacuation of Teutopolis in the aftermath of a deadly crash is causing several weekend events in Effingham County to be canceled — but some organizers are turning their scrapped plans into community support.
Oktoberfest, hosted by the Teutopolis Civic Club, is just one of the cancelled events.
“It’s our main fundraiser for the year. We try to raise money so we can help people in the community,” Club Treasurer Jerry Runde said. “German festive beer, German festive food, the whole nine yards, we were expecting probably between two to 3,000 people to show up.
Now, organizers are making sure all the food they had for the event is put to good use.
The club decided to give away dozens of meals to those who need it the most. On Saturday, they handed out more than 600 hot dogs, burgers and brats to first responders inside Teutopolis High School. They have also made another location available for the public at Pal’s Electric.
Runde said it’s sad that they won’t celebrate their annual Oktoberfest this year, but it’s good to know all the food won’t go to waste.
“This town is incredible. When it comes to situations like this, obviously, this is something that we would have never seen or wouldn’t ever had planned for,” Runde said. “But our club in general, we’re here to help the town. And what better way than today to do something like this?”
Runde said club members will continue handing out food and drinks until it’s all gone. It’s come in handy because there are still first responders that have been on the scene since Friday, and people who still can’t go home on Saturday.
First responders and officials who responded were provided with overwhelming support. It is expected that Oktoberfest will return to Teutopolis next year.
In addition to Oktoberfest, St. Francis Church postponed its weekend masses and there will no Eucharistic Ministry to the Homebound either. The Blessings of the Animals has been canceled and may be rescheduled for a later date.
St. Francis Pastor Joseph Carlos said it’s no surprise so many people came to help during these difficult times, and that seeing people step up shows exactly what Teutopolis is all about.
“They’re fighters. They give 100%. They pray, they’re known for their prayers,” he said. “They’re known for their family, their love for god, their love for their families, their love for the community. If somebody in the community is hurting, they all pitch in.”
The cancelations aren’t just limited to Teutopolis. The Effingham Fire Department had an open house scheduled, but they’ve announced that has to be canceled as well.
“We do ask that you keep the victims, their family, and the residents of Teutopolis in your prayers,” said Effingham Fire Chief Brant Yochum.