What is Oktoberfest

A lot of people have heard of Oktoberfest, but don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it happens in October. When I think of Oktoberfest, I think of it as a fun time to dance. So for those of you, who have never attended an Oktoberfest, let’s fill you in, as to what it is, so we can hurry up and dance!

First of all, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and traveling funfair. It is held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It takes place for 16 days running from late September to the first weekend in October. It is a huge event that millions of people from around the world attend. It is all about traditional Bavarian culture and has been around since 1810. The United States has fully embraced this Bavarian tradition and for Americans, Oktoberfest is just one big party!

Of course people consume lots of specially brewed beers and eat wonderful traditional food like, roast pork, grilled ham hock, grilled fish on a stick, roast chicken, sausages, pretzels, potato and bread dumplings, potato pancakes, sauerkraut and many other Bavarian delicacies at these events. Usually, there are picnic tables and benches that fill up quickly. There is entertainment and lots of tents filled with people, music and food as well as amusement rides, games, street performers and sing-alongs. And if you are into oom-pah bands, Oktoberfest is the home of oom-pah music. You can hear brass bands loud and clear along with the yodelers that seem to be everywhere.


Another part of Oktoberfest is the traditional Bavarian costumes that are worn. Men wear lederhosen (a pair of shorts or three-quarter-length pants sporting either buttoned or zippered fastening), a drop-front flap, and leather suspenders with a front cross strap. Many suspenders come embroidered. Add a white shirt, long socks and boots, and top off the outfit with a Trachten hat, or German-style hiking hat, adorned with a tuft of goat hair. For women the dress du jour is the dirndl which is a flattering ensemble of a bodice, white blouse, and a full-skirt with apron. Where you tie your bow signifies your relationship status: left means single, right means taken.

Now let’s get into the most fun thing about Oktoberfest, the dancing. They say no Oktoberfest is complete without the Chicken Dance. It’s been a festival tradition for more than two decades. To partake in a Chicken Dance, you start by making chicken beaks with your hands by pressing together your thumbs and fingers, opening and closing them like mouths four times to the music. Next, tuck your hands into your armpits and flap elbows four times outward. Then, lower your hands to your sides with palms downward and fingers outstretched, bend your knees, and wiggle back and forth four times. Finally, rise to your feet while clapping four times, and either spin in circles with your arms outstretched, or lock arms with your neighbor and spin. This dance is guaranteed to bring people to their feet, who’ve never even danced before. It is funny to see and at the same time, people cannot resist how much fun it is to keep up with the music, going faster with each verse, in time, to the music. There are other Bavarian dances performed at Oktoberfest, such as the Anvil Dance which is a traditional German dance where the men dance as blacksmiths around the anvil. Actually, this is quite a clever and animated dance, and the anvil is a pretty good little instrument. Polkas are very popular at these events too.

If you’ve never been to Oktoberfest, I suggest you find one now for some terrific fun! They are always automatic crowd pleasers and I guarantee you will find something you really like about it, that you can’t wait to tell your friends about, the next day. Speaking for me, October reminds me of Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest reminds me of fun dancing that can’t be done anywhere else except Oktoberfest!!! In Southern California, the Phoenix Club in Anaheim features Oktoberfest every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weekend the entire month of October.

Thought Of The Week:

Set short term goals and you’ll win games. Set long term goals and you’ll win championships!


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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/