On September 19, I attended an unusual event: the Addison Oktoberfest, a classic beer festival that’s supposed to be the biggest outside of Munich. While I didn’t think it was all that huge, it was big enough, and we had a good time. Aside from a couple of tastings, though, we didn’t have any beer; it was simply too expensive. It was more expensive than airport beer, and that’s expensive indeed.
Before I launch into the description of the event, I want to answer a question that’s been troubling me for some time now: why the heck is the Addison Oktoberfest in September? The answer, as it turns out, is that that’s when the Munich Oktoberfest starts — so they’re trying to be as accurate as possible. I’m not sure why Oktoberfest starts in September in Munich, but I suspect it has something to do with that old Julian-to-Gregorian calendar change that they did a few centuries back. Or maybe not.
Anyway — we headed over on a Friday afternoon at 5 PM, right about the time it was starting. In fact, we had to wait for a while for them to open the gates, but we were among the first people in. Once you troop past the oh-so-German carnival (not) and past all the food booths, which are exactly the same as you see at any event (except maybe the one for skillet potatoes, and we have those in Texas anyway), you get to the Biergarten.
The Biergarten is the whole point of a beer festival — it’s a place, literally a beer garden, where you can buy beer, sit down, and drink it. The beers were many and varied, but mostly of German origin — and they must have been brewed from gold, because they cost the Earth. This is not that unusual, of course; festivals are always, and I mean always, relentlessly mercenary. Why else would one turkey leg cost more than a whole turkey? This year they’re six bucks each. That’s a buck high than they were when I started working the festivals, fairs, etc. over a year ago. It’s not too unusual to pay six bucks for iced tea, either.
But I’m not really here to complain, and the Biergarten wasn’t the be-all and end all of Addison Oktoberfest. There were booths where you could score all kinds of swag, there was a German car show, there was German dancing, and there were people in leather shorts and cool little Robin Hood hats. This gentleman was kind enough to pose for a photo.
There was yodeling, too, and it took place inside the biggest tent I have ever seen in my life. Inside there was a stage, a large dance floor, a huge food court, and enough tables to feed my college class (Texas A&M Class of 1988, incidentally. Gig ‘em!). Here’s one of the images I took inside the food tent. You can see the band in the distance, which was playing all kinds of German music and, yes, yodeling some. If you’re wondering about that odd greenish carpet there, that’s actually grass, a bit worse for wear after this harsh summer.
There was one large booth where you could use actual money to buy stuff, and that’s where I found this very impressive display of ceramic German beer steins. As you can see, I took this picture from a good distance, there being a certain charming bull-in-a-china-shop aspect to my character. I did go check the prices, and they weren’t bad — half-off, actually. I could have gotten one for as little as ten bucks. I didn’t, though, because not only am I clumsy, so is my cat. He positively delights in knocking things off my shelves and my desk. (Sorry, Mr. T, it’s true.)
Moving right along, we went into the Civic Center to check out the German car show.
It was kind of small (the Civic Center isn’t all that big!), and most of the cars were owned by one fellow, a real estate developer who apparently collects them as a hobby. Of course, there were classic Volkswagon Beetles and the occasional Audi, but mostly there were Porsches, like this one.
What was especially fascinating were the signs that identified how much the guy had bought each for; this one he got for just $2,500. Of course, that was back in the 1960s. One of his newer cars cost over $60,000. Oh, and there was a Harley-Davidson motif Smart Car there, too. I had no idea Smart Cars were German, but I guess they are. I think they’re way cool, but I’d hate to tool around the streets of Dallas in one. In the classic words of the McKenzie Brothers: Scary, eh?
Outside the civic center, and just down the way a bit, was this reproduction of the Red Baron’s airplane, a Fokker. I assure you that the whole thing was painted a bright red; for some reason this pic turned out atrocious, and I’m not sufficiently good with Photoshop to fix it.
The last thing we took a look at, as we were heading out, was the exhibition of German music and dancing. The dancing seemed to involve a lot of circle dancing and twirling; I wonder if that’s where square dancing evolved from? Of course I can’t convey the music here, but take a look at them horns. Not only are there some tubas in use, look at the table — those are those big, long alpine horns you see in the Riccola commercials.
Addison Oktoberfest is over for 2008, but it will surely return in 2009. Keep an eye on the Town of Addison’s entertainment website, http://www.addisontexas.net/. This year they charged $5 to get in, and I suspect the same will be the case next year. Tickets for rides and concessions cost a buck each (so why can’t we just use dollars?), and believe me, you’ll need a lot of them for just about anything. Beer costs as much as $12 a pop if you want the commemorative mug.