R.J. Braunaker attended his first Novemberfest when he was a student at Nativity Catholic School and his parents were on the board of directors.
Now, 35 years later, Braunaker is the chairman of the annual fundraiser and festival, and his two sons, Drew and Tyler, are students at the school.
"It brings back memories of when I was a kid when I rode the rides and ran around with my friends," said Braunaker, 42. "It makes me want to be young again."
Novemberfest, which raises money for Nativity Catholic School, starts its five-day run on the church grounds at the corner of Brandon Boulevard and Bryan Road on Thursday. It concludes Nov. 12.
Organizers estimate 100,000 people came out last year to enjoy the food and fun, making the festival the third largest event in Hillsborough County, behind the Florida State Fair and the Strawberry Festival.
Visitors can sample food from dozens of vendors, ride more than 25 different rides and see performances from children's music and dance groups from all around the area.
Braunaker said more than 9,000 volunteer hours went into planning Novemberfest, which is in its 43rd year.
"I think the part that makes me smile the most is watching the kids when they get on a ride for the first time and they are grinning from ear to ear," Braunaker said. "It makes all the hard work worthwhile."
And organizers have made additions to the Novemberfest lineup this year, including new rides, new events and extended hours.
• Two new rides, the Wacky Worm and the Freakout, will be set up at the event, in addition to 24 other rides that make an appearance every year.
• Proceeds from the barbecue cookoff on Nov. 12 will benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides grants and counseling to the children of special operations members who are wounded or killed in the line of duty.
• Former American Idol contestant Jeremy Rosado will host the "Novemberfest Idol" competition on Friday.
• The festival will continue all day on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. Members of the military and their families will receive discounts if they provide military ID.
"There really is something for every age to do," Braunaker said. The rides for the kids, all the food is homemade, and the entertainment. It really is a good, safe environment."