Ich Leibe Oktoberfest!
Last weekend I went on a journey to another world….a world where there’s no sadness, no fear, and no hatred. A world of music and laughter, a world filled with buxom ladies drinking foaming golden brews of delicious lager and a glutton’s delight of food for the taking.
Have you guessed it yet? That’s right, I went to Oktoberfest.
Now, I’m not talking about the ‘real’ Oktoberfest, let’s get this straight. I’m talking about Brisbane’s best efforts at the German celebration. Despite not being as impressive as a true Oktoberfest celebration in Germany, the celebrations held at the RNA showgrounds every year at the beginning of October never fail to impress. Having been to Munich for Oktoberfest previously, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed that there is only one beer tent, however the fun-filled vibe is enough to lift anyones spirits. I had been extremely unwell only a few days before, but I put on a brave face and donned my dirndl, even though I wasn’t much looking forward to watching my friends have all the fun while I wallowed in self-misery. As soon as we walked through the gates, however, it was hard not to feel rejuvenated by the atmosphere.
As you arrive, you’re instantly torn. Do you head for the funfair rides? The costume stalls? Or perhaps the delicious aroma of pork knuckle, roast chicken, and baked potatoes is calling to your attention. These things will instantly go to the back of your mind, I guarantee, when you hear the noise from the beer tent. A real, live German band, which I was thrilled to hear played all the classics, including the epic anthem Ein Prosit (A Toast) – a song guaranteed to make everyone in the hall stand tall, swing their steins, and sing along at the top of their lungs…well as much as they can, anyway. The words aren’t exactly the clearest!
The original Oktoberfest began in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, and was held in the German state of Bavaria. It was very different to the celebrations now, and included, at stages over its history, an agricultural show and a horse race. It has survived a cholera epidemic, numerous world wars, and a terrorist bomb blast. The Munich Oktoberfest has a rule that no beer brewed outside of Munich may be served, and with millions of people visiting every year, it is a great boost to the German economy.
Regardless of it’s impressive history, if you have every attended you will understand the reason behind its popularity. It is simply…fun. There is no other word for it. In a grown-up world where money, family, work, relationships, and a plethora of other thoughts can weigh you from down day to day, it is just so FUN to get dressed up, to hang out with friends in a place where there are no troubles except for whose turn it is to go get the next round. And if you’re not a beer lover, don’t fret. They do flavoured schnapps as well as sparkling and still wines.
Sorry Lani, but you girls just looked so cute!
My friends and I rocked up around lunchtime, headed straight for the drinks ticket booth, and then wandered around the grounds for a while exploring the delights that were up for offer. We found stalls of german nicknacks, fancy dress costumes, and cuckoo clocks. We squealed in delight at the adorable german gingerbread love hearts, and of course had to buy a ginormous salted pretzel to share. We snacked on apple strudel, and told ourselves that we would be good for now and save getting a pork knuckle until we were actually hungry.
We finally ventured into the main tent and easily found a table. Depending on what day you attend, the busyness varies. We went on the last day, which apparently wasn’t the most popular, but we weren’t complaining at not being crowded.
We spent the next few hours slurping down shandies, schnapps, and half-steins (disappointingly they don’t do the real thing!). They have available wheat beer, dark beer, and lager – my personal favourite. We cheerfully listened to the banter around us, had some raucous conversations of our own, made some new friends, and eventually felt lubricated enough to go and have a dance around in front of the stage. The dirndls were flying, the breasts were heaving, the lederhosen were kicking, the yodellers were yodelling, and everyone was having a great time.
The only dampener on the day, however, was when we finally went to get our pork knuckle (to share -they were huge!), but alas, they had run out (there were some down-sides to going on the closing day)! We got over our disappointment when we tasted the wursts they had on offer instead (that’s sausages to those poor Oktoberfest-deprived people).
We finished our visit by returning to the german trinket stall right before it closed. I purchased a cute wooden christmas ornament and splurged on a hat that I’d had on my mind since I’d seen it that morning. Satisfaction!
We got home at around 7pm, and had an early night to awake refreshed for work the next day!
If you haven’t experienced Oktoberfest before, I strongly recommend it. If you can, venture to the original and the best, but if you can’t, Brisbane Oktoberfest will not disappoint!