I love Fall. Not only for the crisp air, the chestnuts, the pumpkin lattes, and the trees’ lively shades of red, yellow, and orange, but also for the many joyous celebrations happening especially in October.
One of my favorite ones is Oktoberfest, the annual 16-day beer festival held in Munich, Bavaria. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Germany both as an exchange student and as a reoccurring visitor; so, I know this country rather well and enjoy their traditions and the food. I will never forget the summers spent drinking Spetzi with my German classmates at the local music festivals or the big weekend brunches featuring eggs, all kinds of salami, black forest bread, and bratwursts with “my” German family. I was pretty fluent in German and that made things easier everywhere I went in the country, as I was able to dive into their culture.
A tradition that doesn’t need any translation, though, is drinking beer and Germans do that on a regular basis. I’ve been to Oktoberfest in Munich and let’s just put it this way; it’s wild! Not crazy wild, but rather outrageous for the amount of Stieg people drink. The good thing, though, is that everyone is happy drunk and there’s always a fun band performing traditional German songs and blonde braided waitresses wearing maid costumes.
Living in Southern California, I had almost forgotten about Oktoberfest, until I found out that there is not one, but so many. While last October, I celebrated it in grand style but privately with real German expats in Topanga Canyon, this year I decided to venture to a public one. My friends and I decided to go to Lake Arrowhead. The choice was made based on the picturesque location: You can’t get more German than Lake Arrowhead with all the delightful chalets and houses framing the blue lake against the silhouettes of the mountains.
We arrived around noon, right when the action was about to start and we were thrilled to see that also a vintage Volkswagen car show was under way. It was so cool to see all the signature models from all eras and colors parked in all their customized splendor. All those cars were competing in different categories and announced on the main stage of the Oktoberfest area. When we cued for food and beer and sat under the tent, a “German” band was already performing traditional songs. They were all dressed to impress with semi-authentic attire and they played after a couple of songs, the signature toasting song “Prosit.” What we enjoyed the most were the contests: We all had been signed up to participate in one by our lovely friend, Shannon. So, I found myself holding a Stieg with six other women, but failed to win when my arm gave up the task (a pilates instructor ended up winning, in case you were wondering). The men’s Stieg-holding game was actually more fierce and competitive; I thought the last three contestants were going to have a hernia for sure! Shannon and Lynde were in the “beer chugging” contest and, considering that none of them really drinks beer, it was a show!
Oktoberfest happens every weekend in Lake Arrowhead in October, don’t miss the opportunity to get a taste of Germany and “Trink, trink, bruderlein, trink! Lassen die Sorgen zu Haus!” (drink, drink, lil’ brother, leave the worries at home!)