Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yes. And yes.

For 50 weeks of the year, I'm not really all that interested in going to Germany. But then Oktoberfest comes along and I am once again kicking myself for not being there.

Apart from lack of money, my main problem this time around is that I don't have anyone to go with. The child bride doesn't drink and she's not really a fan of being stuck amid a huge crowd of drunkards. Considering that some 6 million people are expected to take part in this year's German boozery, it's a good bet that Rachel won't be found anywhere near Munich over the next 16 days. If anyone out there is interested in going next year, let me know. My only requirement for a travelling companion is that you be able to lie convincingly -- you will need to do this when we return home and the child bride asks if I drank too much.

"No," you will say. "He was very well-behaved. To be honest, I think he missed you so much, he didn't really enjoy being there."

For those of you playing along at home, two devastating wars and countless soccer defeats have resulted in a general disinterest in Germany and German things here in Britain. Oktoberfest gets very little play. To be fair, though, Britons have their own massive beer-drinking festival -- they call it "Saturday."

For international viewers, as a big thank you for providing us with beer, sausage, pretzels and two ego-boosting wars, Americans host Oktoberfest celebrations in towns all across the country, including places where German influence is almost non-existent, like La Mesa, Calif. (it is from that city's Oktoberfest that this blog gets its name). These events are similar to our St. Patrick's Day celebrations in that the focus is on eating and drinking and reinforcing comical stereotypes. We also do this with Mexicans and Cinco de Mayo.

One of the best single-location* Oktoberfest celebrations I've been to is held at Gasthof zur Gemütlickeit, in Minneapolis. A large tent is erected in the parking lot and then filled to heaving with people and a polka band that is loud and raucous on a Gogol Bordello scale. The band is so loud that you don't so much hear it as feel and think it; it becomes a constant, coursing through your skull, that, when matched with beer consumption, destroys your ability to string together coherent thought. Each time I've gone, I've walked away feeling that it was one of the best nights I've had all year.

*As opposed to those celebrations that take up several city blocks and feature several vendors.


Anonymous said...

ummm, who wants to be the one to tell the germans that it's not october yet?

that's okay. guess there's not enough days in october to squeeze in all the oktoberfest fun.

Elimare said...

I'll go next year, hell I'll go this year, I've got 20 days holidays to take before the end of the year!
We had the second biggest Oktoberfest in Kitchener, saurkraut, sausage, schnitzel, beer and the Birdie Song. What more could you want? Although I was never a fan of saurkraut.

Anonymous said...

Prepare to hate the boy: he is going there FOR WORK next week. Although I guess Oktoberfest is not really the same when you have to perform a job there.

Chris Cope said...

Gah! I hate the boy! I hate him, I hate him, I hate him (in that purely jealous way).

Unknown said...

I went to Gastof's on Friday for the lidlifter. It was again, one of the best events in Minneapolis. As it is every year. I drank liters of German beer, did Apfelkorn shots, snuff, sang German songs, played hammerschlaggen, and participated in merrymaking. If only I could go every weekend. You should have been there...

Rhys Wynne said...

The Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival is in Cardiff in November, but instead of busty young blondes as you'd get in the Oktober Fest, you get busty bearded middle aged men.

Huw said...

I'll go. I have a tendency to wordlessly walk off after one too many though. I believe this is known as phantoming. There are Facebook groups for people like me.

Anonymous said...


I'm in. I'll bring Anthony too. We'll drop the ladies off in Cardiff so Rachel can be distracted and then head to Germany and paint the town red...or in this case, Oktoberfest orange.

What dates should we arrive?

Tom Parsons said...

I'll go. I've been to Munich and know my way around a little.

Chris, when you're back here, you really should go to New Ulm for Oktoberfest. They also have Bock Fest in the spring. New Ulm is, after all, the most German city/town in the U.S.