(and I’m not talking Turkey, Texas)
Oktoberfest is an annual Bavarian celebration starting back in 1810. In Germany (the land of my Forefathers), the celebration will last 16 days and has carnival rides and vendors. I tried to determine the actual reason for the joyous merriment, but could only find a reference to drinking beer, eating great quantities of German food, and drinking more beer; all done while bands play. My research shows the festival was often combined with other celebrations but the first was simply a agricultural show in Munich. There were several years in the past when the celebration did not take place usually caused by a war, or a Cholera epidemic or the economy.
The German Embassy hosted Oktoberfest this last Thursday and Friday nights. We hailed a taxi and arrived about 7pm. The German Embassy has a large tent set up, probably used for various gatherings. It would be hard to determine how many people were there, but I understand the tickets get sold out within a few days.
I was expecting this would be like one of the balls we had attended in the past, where many large round tables were set up for about 10 to 12 people. Here, the seating is picnic tables set up end to end, filling the huge tent. Each table had scatterings of pretzels and cheese.
Each of the four corners of the huge tent had a beer tap. It was turned on and left running. One man would take a tankard, (or mug) and fill it with another waiting under it. As soon as one was filled, it was picked up by a waiter or passerby. There was wine for the choosiest of the people and plenty of cartons of juices for the non drinkers. Elsewhere on the tables were rows of bottle water.
I have never seen so many people, consume such great quantities of beer in the hours we were there. Every now and then, I would see 4 or 5 waiters carrying kegs of beer to the taps. About 8 o’clock, waiters started placing plates of potato salad on the tables. Many plates. The eating was family style. You just found a place to sit and started grabbing the food. About 15 minutes later, they brought out trays of sausages followed by chicken legs. Everything was perfectly seasoned. I ate a lot of sausages and chicken. During the actual festivals in Germany, many other types of German food are added to the menu, most notably sauerkraut.
No one really sat at their assigned tables, so we gathered with others from the American Embassy. At our table, there was an old couple who had been to many of these festivals, evidenced by the fact they knew all the songs and knew when to raise their tankards. They did not speak English, but they smiled and toasted with everyone like we were family.
The atmosphere was eating, drinking and singing. As the beer was consumed, the dancing began.
In truth, beer is something you never buy, it is simply rented. So as is expected with the consumption of beer, you will also see a strong need for a urinal. With the number of people renting the beer, the need for many urinals was great. Someone in the Urine Industry has invented a nifty way for three men to use a pyramid shaped urinal at one time. No need to use the porta-potties seen at construction sites.
Now, evidently it takes women longer to rid themselves of beer, so fidgety women are always standing in line waited to use their facilities. As a result, many simply went into the men’s side and stole use of the porta-potties. … I saw no man complain.
To help put the celebration into proper prospective, several vendors set up booths selling clothing and souvenirs of the Festival. So my lovely wife went and purchased a dirndl dress to help celebrate.
This was the first Oktoberfest we have attended, and as I research it, I find it is one of thousands across the Globe. It was small by comparison to those in Munich where it originated, but we enjoyed it and will be going to the next one, and the next, and the next …
Man, that was some great food!