Ah, Oktoberfest, my favorite festival of the year—a 16-day celebration of beer, dirndl and würstl! Though the Munich festival has come and gone, starting in September and ending the first weekend of October, things are just beginning to heat up here on this side of the pond. Case in point, Palm Beach County’s biggest and best Oktoberfest extravaganza gets underway October 12 at the American-German Club of the Palm Beaches, located in Lake Worth.
Founded in 1967, the American-German Club of the Palm Beaches was formed to preserve the “traditions, culture and heritage” of the fatherland. And what’s more quintessentially Bavarian than dressing in your Sunday’s finest dirndl or lederhosen, grabbing a stein of Hofbräu and raising it up for the sake of the beer itself—how great is that? These sentiments were not lost on the founders of the American-German Club (first called the Bavarian- American Club), who celebrated their first Oktoberfest, Bavaria by way of Lake Worth, in 1974.
The festivities of the 39th Annual Oktoberfest are open to the public, with Oktoberfest beers on tap, authentic Bavarian food on the grills and gemütlichkeit (good times in a social setting) to be had by all. In Germany, the only beers aloud at Oktoberfest are those brewed within Munich city limits (Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Hofbräu-München, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr) and they all must have a minimum ABV of 6 percent. Continuing this München tradition stateside, the Hofbräu-München Beer Hall is stocked to the rafters with Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier, Hofbräu Dunkel, Hofbräu Original and Münchner Weisse, all served by the cup, pitcher, or, for those who have been infected with the gemütlichkeit, a boot or liter stein—sweet suds of fire, that’s a lot of beer!
Oktoberfest has been a Bavarian tradition since 1810 when then crown prince Ludwig (who became king of Bavaria in 1825) married princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen. The festival continues to this day at the same location, Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow), and has become a truly international affair as well as the world’s largest fair, with more than six million people estimated to join in the party in 2012.
Now that Munich has had its fun, Lake Worth is picking up the torch with two weekends of scheduled events, running October 12-14 and 19-21. A family-friendly event, children’s activities, carnival rides and games will keep the kiddies busy. Authentic German cuisine (pretzels and sauerbraten!) will keep the beer from getting the best of revelers, and indoor and outdoor biergartens will keep the suds flowing. Live entertainment will embody the international spirit of the festival with traditional dance groups representing Bavaria, Ireland and Ukraine, as well as live music and dancing lessons for those uninhibited by the Hofbräu. But for one of the most entertaining spectacles of the two-weekend celebration make sure to attend the masskrugstemmen competition, aka beer stein holding contest. Straight out of Beerfest, on both Fridays, October 12 and 19 at 9 p.m., men and women will try their hand at this German feat of strength, holding a stein filled with a liter of beer (a tick more than five pounds) with arms extended parallel to the ground. It may sound easy enough but trust me, that liquid weight is deceiving, especially after imbibing on a few before the starting bell.
- Admission costs $8 (get a $2 off coupon here). For schedule of events and more information, please visit the American-Geman Club’s Oktoberfest website here: americangermanclub.org/oktoberfest
Drink responsibly and plan ahead for transportation. Prost! (Cheers!).