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