Lantana Oktoberfest 2011: Survival Guide (for 2012)

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Saturday, Rebecca Dittmar attended Oktoberfest 2011 at the American German Club of the Palm Beaches in Lantana. 

Check out our slideshow here.

Deutschland is probably not the first association to spring to mind when one thinks of South Florida, but the American German Club of the Palm Beaches has been throwing its über-memorable Oktoberfest celebration for almost 40 years. The chicken dance, the polka music, the band flown all the way from Germany -- all conspire to create a German fest of epic proportions. In some ways, it's a lot like any fair, complete with carnival rides. But until you've seen grown men in lederhosen and chicken hats, you haven't lived. 

It wrapped up this past weekend, so if you've never been, you've missed it for 2011. But there's always next year, and we sacrificed our livers (and our sanity) to bring you tips to make the most of Oktoberfest 2012.

1. Arrive early
This cannot be stressed enough. The first hour in

the car wasn't so bad. Spirits mostly remained high in anticipation of

boots full of German beer and wiener schnitzel and grown men in chicken

hats. The last half hour was a dark

time. Dark. 

By the time we got inside, the "tender pork" had all been eaten and the

Widmer Hefe Weizen was nothing more than a foamy memory -- at least, it

was at the beer stand we patronized. Since waiting in another line was

out of the question, we got our Hofbrau Lights and got out of there.

2. Bring your patience

event has gotten big. BIG. More than 30,000 attend over the

course of two weekends, and although the club's entire campus is about ten

acres, much of that is for parking. As with any event with that sort of

attendance, patience is the key to survival. Learn to enjoy your line time. 

3. Be strategic. 
Send two friends ahead while you purchase tickets to be used in lieu of money.

Join the first friend in the food line. This line will be shorter, and

you can help carry food. Finally, reconvene with friend two in the beer

line. This way, the three of you can enjoy a steaming plate of spicy

goulash over noodles and sauerkraut, and if you time it just right, you'll finish and leave both hands free for beer, which leads us to

our next tip.

4. Maximize line time

You have two hands -- probably. Both of them can hold beer. Exploit this.

You could also order a boot and/or a pitcher. The basic premise is,

figure out how much beer you're likely to drink and try to buy it in one


Monica McGivern
This man is clearly a professional.

5. Beer tastes better when drunk from a stein

it does. While the rim of the plastic cup invokes a tailgaiting/frat

party feeling, closing your eyes and bringing a stein to your lips

transports you to Munich, birthplace of Oktoberfest. And

consider this -- in such a ridiculous crush of human bodies, your elbow

will inevitably be jostled. This will not only send your beer hand

(which, if you've followed tip four, will be both) flying but it will also

cause you to reflexively squeeze your hand. If you are holding a plastic

cup, precious beer will well up over your hand, run down your arm, and

puddle in your cute sandals. The stein is not only unsqueezable but has

an air of dignity around it that simply deters jostling altogether.

Now you are safe to raise your beer high in the air as you sway to

"Sweet Caroline." (Why this seems to be the anthem of this event, we

have no idea. But the crowd loves it, so sway along.)

6. Know where your bathrooms are

am loath to share this tip since it is so valuable, but here goes. While standing in

the most frustrating line of all -- frustrating because what is at the

end of this line is truly an unavoidable necessity -- my German fairy

godmother found me. She was elderly, tiny, and dressed in a dirndl.

"Zere is another bathroom," she whispered and pointed up the stairs.

"Danke!" Yes, "zere" is another bathroom upstairs in

the Festhaus, and it is always empty. You're welcome.

7. Learn the drinking chant
First, you count to three in German,  Sidenote: Yes,

there are carnival rides and games to keep the kids happy as well. They

even have that big slide that you go down on an empty potato sack. But

that's not what Oktoberfest is about. We suggest you keep to the

biergarden and the dance floor. In addition to the authentic German band, you'll see belly dancers and Irish step

dancers -- these are in no way German, of course, but celebrating

multiculturalism is always fun. And besides, during Oktoberfest,

everybody's German. "Prosit!"

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