Friday, September 17, 2010

It's Stein Time

Magnet # 344: Helen 2009 Oktoberfest

Material: Acrylic, Metal

Purchased By: Lindsay

Even though it's still September, the town of Helen, Georgia is currently holding the second weekend of its annual Oktoberfest. This is it's biggest event of the year, and it runs for eight weeks until October 31. Each week, the fun starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday. This is the 40th year that Oktoberfest has been held in Helen, but its origins go back much further than that.

This year actually marks the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. It dates all the way back to 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria wed Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12. To commemorate the event, a great horse race was held in Munich on the 17th of the month, followed by an Oktoberfest celebration with dancing and dining the next day, so it's debatable as to which day Oktoberfest began. Regardless, Bavarians came to love the event, holding it in honor of the couple's anniversary each year beginning in 1812. With time, all sorts of changes and additions have been made to the celebrations - it has been lengthened, pushed forward, included a parade and an opening festival, been decorated with the Bavaria statue, and seen the end of horse races. It has also become an event that is known and celebrated worldwide and is perhaps Munich's most famous attraction. And this year's anniversary Oktoberfest kicks off tomorrow and runs through October 3. Even though it's incredibly popular, it's still free to attend. Given that this is its bicentennial, record numbers of revelers are expected flood Munich.

Can't make it out to Munich or Helen for their Oktoberfests? Well, that shouldn't be a problem, as variations of the event are held all over the world. The largest in the United States is Ohio's Oktoberfest-Zinzinatti and it draws in a crowd of as many as 700,000 each year, giving Munich a run for its money. Of course, few places in our nation can compete with the faux-Bavarian atmosphere in Helen, or the authenticity of Munich. Still, here in Savannah, we have our own Oktoberfest coming up on the first weekend of October. One of its highlights is the Wiener Dog Races on Saturday morning. Even though I've never been, a friend of mine took her dachshund, Rufus, to participate last year. She said they put the dogs in boxes, just like racing horses, then open up the gate. And when Rufus came out of his box, he was startled by all of the commotion and tried to get back in. But he finally caught on to what some of the other dogs were doing in running to the finish line and followed. Apparently, plenty of the wiener dogs just aren't sure what's going on. Still, it sounds like fun and my friend is considering entering Rufus again this year. Who knows, maybe I'll make it out to see him race. I'm pretty sure, however, I won't be joining in the rest of the Oktoberfest activities. I know I've mentioned I don't like crowds and I don't drink alcohol, so it's not a great place for me. Of course, they may sell German-themed items that aren't food, even possibly magnets - maybe checking it out isn't a bad idea after all. Well, if any of you are planning on attending an Oktoberfest, around the country or the world, I hope you have a great time with a stein in one hand, wurst in the other!


  1. Years ago I went to Munich Oktoberfest and was determined to drink a stein of beer. After only 2 sips I lost my resolve and turned the brew over to my companion. He drank his and mine. My hero! I heard on NPR that this year at the Munich Oktoberfest attendees will not be allowed to somke in the tents. This is a problem because in the past the normal smell that come from many people over imbibing in alcohol have been masked by the smell of smoke. I never occured the me that smoke could be a pleasant smell.

  2. You still got in two more sips than I could have managed. And, yes, it's surprising to think that the smell of smoke could be a good thing.