Lake Worth Floridas 46th Annual Oktoberfest
I had the chance to attend the Boca Raton area Oktoberfest which took place in Lake Worth, Florida the other day. Even though Lake Worth is the liberal / Arts district, I must warn you now, there was no Metal here. This didn't detract from the enjoyability of this event, however, as I went for the food and the oompa-oompa of the polka bands. It took some searching but we eventually found what we were looking for.
Upon being surprised that parking was 15 dollars on top of 12 dollar tickets (one for me and one for my lady)- I decided to give it a chance anyway. It was bigger than most Oktoberfests I have attended. There were at least a few thousand people there. Many of the people in attendance sported fine lederhosen or braids and bodiced dresses. For those without the hair for braids, braids were provided oh yes! (at a nominal fee I am sure.) I noticed that the older crowd really was into the dressing up more than the young ones. This is not to say there weren't kleine-herren and little maedels running around. The crowd was of course very diverse with it being Florida and all. Everyone came out for a taste of Germany.
We had to pour out our water at the gate so I was immediately in search of more since it was hot outside and my meds do not sit well with alcohol. We made our way into the fairgrounds and to the first group of booths. There were many vendors offering wares from t-shirts to beautiful hand made jewelry and henna or glitter tattoos. I saw some local businesses too had set up booths to sell homeowners things like swimming pool supplies or Fandom posters. (Even though the movie just came out there were already some sweet Joker paintings.) Sadly... I could not eat any of these. I was parched and needed water.
The first large covered area with a hard roof we came to housed at least half the restaurants. I was hungry too so I chose a place offering schnitzel on a bun and I was not disappointed with my food. I was, however, a little crestfallen when the man at the window told me he was out of waters. I wanted two but I settled for sprites. They tasted good but only made me thirstier. This was after we waited in a long line for the tickets to trade for goods. The exchange rate being a dollar a ticket- a soda or water was 3 and the sandwich was about 6 or 8 I seem to remember.
My girlfriend opted for a big stein of Oktoberfest Beer by Paulaner. (14 tickets a refill, 22 tickets for the first one!) I was chided for asking for water when there was so much beer but it was in good fun. This was not the only fare on offer. There were potato pancakes, good ole french fries, beef goulash with some sort of noodles, and currywurst (whatever that is.) We eventually found a place where she could get a bratwurst with kraut on a bun and I could get my water. Now I was happy.
We made our way up a hill into another larger roofed area with a stage and more restaurant/bar booths. At times there was a little nudging and bumping into people but everyone, for the most part, was polite. I only saw one person spill their beer and that was right at my feet as they were walking past lazily holding their stein at a precarious angle. After that, I was focused on how everyone near me held their steins to prevent getting wet. This was when we noticed the band.
I am glad this wasn't the only band- mind you- because I was in the mood for some old fashioned Lawrence Welk style polka. What was on the stage was a band playing the "Chicken Dance" to the delight of about 500 people all clapping and smiling and enjoying themselves. Then they played "Sweet Caroline" and went into Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" at an uncomfortably fast pace. We were not pleased with this act and wrote them off as fine for a wedding or the Catalina Wine Mixer. (extra points if you get my movie reference!) We reasoned that this band was to please the masses and keep them engaged with slightly familiar things but we wanted REAL GERMANY.
We moved through the Pavillion and sat down to people watch. This is where the patron spilled their stein near me and made me cautious for other drunkies. We took in the setting sun near the carnival rides and fun houses for a while before venturing back to the center of things. There were a few men in what can only be described as Gnome hats. They looked like extreme Hershey's kisses with a long pointy tail standing up, very charming. My girlfriend noticed a building that resembled the village-style architecture of some places she saw when she was in Germany herself. We walked through the door and were very pleasantly surprised. There was a full-sized restaurant in there with what could only be described as a grand hall as you read about in Beowulf. Two stories with the upper floor looking down on a sprawling dance floor or gathering space and a stage. There was a Black Forest cake, strudel, and other goodies I can't pronounce. Children were chasing each other having a grand old time. On the stage was a dashing set of gentlemen with their guitars and brass instrument playing the polka I had been looking for. My girlfriend remarked, "Oh my God, it's JUST like when I was in Germany!" I have never been to Germany but I imagined the brick walls, wooden beams, and warm yellow lighting coupled with the laughing and musical voices all raised together in a song would probably not be out of place there.
I was pleasantly surprised that we found this little pocket of Germany amid the Americanized throng. We spent the rest of the night listening to the polka band and watching the people having fun (while the previous band repeated their earlier set outside) and getting along without static- without fights- even though alcohol was in great abundance. Nine out of ten would go again!