October 4, 2015

Debunking 5 Myths About Oktoberfest

To be totally honest and upfront about everything: I did not expect to like Oktoberfest.

Beer. Crowds. Dirndl.

Not. My. Thing.

In addition to these general preconceptions, there was also the massive propaganda that has always been spewed in America. Yes, the concept of Oktoberfest when talked about in America is complete propaganda: from both sides of the issue.

There are the lingering Prohibitionists who swear up and down that Oktoberfest is just a bunch of fornicating drunkards, high on hell-raising, and who may murder you while under the influence.

Then there are the party-lovers who dream of nothing but going to the largest beerfest in the world: where the beer flows like water and it's an entire month of rowdy and exciting spring break with no consequences.

Emergency last-minute dirndl and lederhosen
at the Munich train station.

Even my British tour guide in Munich told our group that during the month of Oktoberfest, there were so many drunk people stumbling around at all hours of the day and there was vomit everywhere.

These things were genuinely told to me. Now I'm wondering what could have ever convinced me that going to Munich during Oktoberfest could be a good idea.

Well, curiosity (and a day off from volleyball) got the best of me. After enjoying Munich my way, I directed my steps toward the large space on the map reserved for Oktoberfest, ready to confirm or debunk these five myths.

Myth #1 Oktoberfest is the full month of October.

Most of the festivities happen in September. This year's dates were September 17th to October 3rd. It is always over by the first weekend in October. If you ever want to attend Oktoberfest, make sure you have time off in September.

Myth #2 Oktoberfest is a giant college party.

Granted, I wasn't a "partier" during college, but I'm fairly certain that the parties didn't include children, parents, grandparents, and other family members of all ages. Oktoberfest is actually geared toward family fun.

Myth #3 Oktoberfest is a beer festival.

Yes, of course, there is beer in the tents, and it's cheap and plentiful. But a festival dedicated to a food or beverage isn't usually under the disguise of a carnival. Oktoberfest is the Bavarian State Fair. And like all fairs, there is locally brewed beer, local food, local treats, crazy fair rides, expensive and impossible carnival games, and a lot of noise and lights. The biggest difference between a normal state fair and Oktoberfest is a state fair lacks a traditional costume and about 30% of the people at Oktoberfest are wearing dirndl or lederhosen.

Myth #4 Oktoberfest is full of drunkards and puke.

I walked around Munich all day and didn't even see trash, let alone, vomit. There was a general jolly ambiance in the city, but no one was out of control, rude, obscene, or tripping over themselves. Even the tourists had it under control. Munich may get crowded during Oktoberfest, but it does not become a madhouse or barfbag.

Myth #5 I do not belong at Oktoberfest.

Literally, every kind of person ever is at Oktoberfest. You don't have to drink or like beer to enjoy the craziness. I didn't love it enough to become an Oktoberfest groupie in a dirndl, but I could enjoy going once a year. And if we keep living in Bavaria, that is a very realistic and reasonable expectation. The fairgrounds/Jersey Shore/carnival scene isn't really for me, but I can appreciate it in small doses.

All in all, I am relieved that I didn't hate Oktoberfest. I am also relieved that it really isn't my thing, in that it won't become the only thing I look forward to every year.

Have you been to Oktoberfest? What did you like or not like about it? What other myths have you heard?