September 25, 2011
Well, let me start off with saying it was nothing like any of us expected. When we arrived at the Oktoberfest fairgrounds, it seemed we had just stepped into the largest carnival on the planet. Tons of families were walking around together in traditional dress, lederhosen for the men and dirndls for the women. There were food stands, drink stands, and rides galore. We could not believe the size of the festival and how many people were there. I expected it to be mostly belligerent men drinking beer but was pleasantly surprised to see that it was more of a carnival than anything else.
We arrived in time for the traditional concert of the Oktoberfest brass-bands at the foot of the Bavaria monument and it was incredible. This concert consists of all of the bands from each of the beer tents playing a concert of traditional songs together.
Looking around at the crowd, I was truly shocked to see how many people were in costume. We decided that if we were going to participate in Oktoberfest, we were going to do it right, and set out in search of our own lederhosen and dirndls. Since it was Sunday, everything was closed and we walked around for about an hour before we found a store that was open. We each made our selection, turned over our life savings and emerged looking like true Germans. In case anyone is wondering, we will all be wearing these costumes for the next 10 Halloweens and Oktoberfests to justify our purchases. Steve went for the full regalia, socks, shoes, leather lederhosen and all, and it was really creepy how good he looked. That man was born to wear lederhosen.
Prepared to party, we made our way back to the festival. We decided on the Augustiner tent and almost died when we walked into it. This was no tent - this looked like something straight out of a Harry Potter movie. The 'tent' was enormous and there were thousands of people shoved on benches around large tables. We wandered around trying to find seats at a table when we met three awesome Germans who invited us to join them. Martin, Helmut, and Julia were Oktoberfest pros and we quickly got to know each other over our huge beers. An important thing to know about drinking at Oktoberfest is the beers only come in one size, a humongous liter sized beer stein, which is essentially the size of a toddler. You can imagine the results this produces.
The day continued with numerous liters of beer and tons of drinking songs. It is pretty incredible when the entire tent jumps up on their benches and joins in singing songs with the brass band. These songs are always concluded with smashing your stein, cheering "Prost," which is a German cheer. Things ended up getting pretty rowdy and after two liters of beer, I had enough strength to break my stein during a cheer and ended up cutting my leg. Don't worry I didn't feel it and now have a permanent scar as a reminder of that wonderful day at Oktoberfest.
We ended up switching to an even rowdier tent towards the end of the evening, the Hofbrau-Festzelt tent. This tent is the largest one at the festival and was just ridiculous. There were beer hops hanging all over as decoration and it was crazier than every college party I have ever been to combined! We had an absolute blast and fortunately, do not have any photos from this tent. After three beer steins (24 liters) later, I had to call it a night. Oktoberfest - see you next year you crazy thing, you.