Entertainment & Events

Why is Oktoberfest so important America?

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Oktoberfest 2009 Munich

Oktoberfest 2009 Munich

Over the weekend San Diego was hit by the Oktoberfest bug. With festivals in Ocean Beach and La Mesa, the beer was running and the steins were clanking together. There were women wearing dirndl dresses, men in lederhosen and most important of all, an ample supply of the greatest beers available. Why has a festival that is so important to Munich, Germany, trickled into the states of our great nation and most importantly San Diego?

Well, having recently returned from Munich where I attended the real Oktoberfest, I can tell you why the prestigious event has become something of a global phenomena.

Let’s paint the scenery here folks; first you’re walking through the gorgeous city of Munich admiring all the eclectic culture of Bavaria, then it happens, a gaggle of some of the most beautiful women you have seen cheering and chanting in German some of their most memorable songs. Turning your head you see a group of men in traditional lederhosen drinking beer in the streets, laughing and embracing one another in anticipation of the events to come. Walking down the street you approach a local pub that serves food and serves some of the most delicious beer to trickle down the pallet of any man in the world.

The quaint establishment is dually named the Augustinier. Ordering a stein of beer and a frankfurter with potato salad, you await the meal. In the distance the festival can be seen with thousands upon thousands of people trickling out of every corner of the city, going down the alley ways and streets into the festival. You say to yourself “oh my god, I am in Munich right now and I am about to go to Oktoberfest, can it get any better than this?”

The steins arrive, served by a beautiful waitress and the beer that lies within the glass looks like a golden chalice served to the highest of royalty. Laughing and yelling “PROST,” you and your friends cheers to the good times that are about to be had, and to the beauty of Oktoberfest. The first sips of the beer and first bites into the food are like a reawakening of the soul that we have forgotten for so very long. The potato salad you think to yourself rivals the greatest of four-star chef establishments, but you guzzle it down and before you know it you are on your way to the festival.

The closer and closer you get, the higher the level of anticipation gets. Stopping at a local store, you purchase beers before the event to get that pre-game going. Paying about 5 euro you receive two beers, and take them out into the streets and head to the event. Sipping on the recently acquired beers you can’t help but notice  the prowess of the beer that is served in the stores to that of American beer. Laughing and joking down the cobble stone streets of Munich you finally get there, your eyes widened and a tear drop trickles down your cheek.

A sea of people lies before you, to your right are rides and attractions, pony rides, and food that is served to all the patrons. Walking deeper and deeper into the event you see a spinning bar filled with 40-50 people from all over the world. Bulgaria, Bolivia, Sweden, England, and Australia; you name the country, it had people there.

Your senses are overloaded by the sheer size of the event. Then you see it, the infamous tents of Oktoberfest: Augustinier, Lowenbrau, Schottenhamel, Hofbrau and ten others. The choices seem endless. Finally you make a choice and you decide to go to the Augustinier tent because it’s what you first had, and why break a tradition?

Walking in is like nothing you have ever experienced. The craziest clubs, parties, and festivals can not even begin to mimic the superiority of an Oktoberfest tent in Munich.  Filled with upwards of five thousand people, everyone is standing on tables cheering on the band that is playing center stage.

Waitresses are carrying steins eight at a time and everyone, I mean everyone, is drunk. Finally you wade through the thick crowd and you and your eight friends plop down at a table. Your amazed at how easily you got a table, especially when you had eight people, but you don’t fret on it and embrace the luck. You order eight steins from the waitresses and the party begins.

Me and my frined Jon R. Oktoberfest 2009 Munich

Me and my friend Jon R. Oktoberfest 2009 Munich

As you begin meeting people, they start to talk to you about how they love America, they embrace you like a brother, like a kinsmen, as if everyone is equal and no one is above the other.

The women laugh and exude true beauty which can only be seen in Europe.  You begin to have an epiphany and say, “this is what it is all about,” living the dream and enjoying it with no violence, no predetermined bias, just a flat out celebration of life and everything it has to offer.

As the beer flows, the love grows to astounding heights. Girls jumping into your arms to shoot photos, men hugging and kissing your buddies neck as if they’ve known each other for years. The party goes on into the night and the vibe of unity and friendship continues as long as the beer is being dispensed.

The tents close down at 11 pm and the party is over. Leaving, you are inundated with laughs and jokes from the locals and visitors alike. Girls kiss you on your cheek; they laugh and frolic as men buy you beers on the way out.

The night wasn’t over; it had just begun. The experience I had that day made me realize why we are bringing such a festival to our great city.

Oktoberfest, from a first hand experience, changed my life.  I have never in my life witnessed an event filled with so much love and acceptance. Oktoberfest has a way of awakening a forgotten part of your spirit that nothing else could have ever done. The part that makes you realize that in a world full of hate, violence, and destruction there is a human condition that seeks peace — a peace that we all strive for in our daily lives. Oktoberfest evokes that peace.

As you take the first sip of the beer and stare into the eyes of a random person, you see the common ground you share despite the glaring differences in your life. It is this feeling that has made Oktoberfest become a part of our community here in San Diego.

The joy of bringing unity through the ingestion of a hoppy beverage has my whole-hearted support. In times that are bleek and dismal we can show the community that we are all one, and we all just want to have fun. Oktoberfest here, is nothing like the real Oktoberfest I’m sure, but the ideal is the same: a celebration of life and an embrace of our common grounds.

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