If you were confused about the sudden appearance of hundreds of dirndls and lederhosen yesterday afternoon, we can explain.
The St Andrews Charity Oktoberfest came back for its tenth year last night, bringing with it the traditional Bavarian garb, delicious snacks including but not limited to pretzels, pastries, and almonds, an incredible live German band, and what seemed like an endless supply of Paulaner. Oktoberfest is a hotly anticipated event on the St Andrews calendar, and tickets are extremely hard to come by. In general, students feel very strongly about Oktoberfest; several people came up to us completely unsolicited and talked at great length about how much they love it. One German attendee told us that the event made him feel at home. Very high praise indeed, and now we can see why. For lack of a better word, Oktoberfest is just very cool.
Buses whisked guests to Kinkell starting at 1:45, and it was mercifully warm, which made the wait for the slightly disorganized transport a little better. Leaving from outside Sallies proved to be a bit tricky with all the busy weekend traffic and apparent lack of a committee presence, so a suggestion for next year would be to perhaps pick a different pick-up location.
Once we got to Kinkell, the buses were forgotten. After four years, events at Kinkell can feel a little ritualized in the sense that they play similar music and start at similar times. Oktoberfest breaks that tradition by having a traditional live German band and by starting in the daytime. (Turns out Kinkell Byre is right by the ocean. Who knew?) The decorations were also quite a departure from the usual fairy lights; with flags and colorful streamers draped everywhere you looked.
Speaking of the band, they were really fantastic. We know nothing about German music, and still don’t, but they were a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to love it and the dance floor was always full. They also transitioned into other music at one point, bringing out a guitar and doing German renditions of lots of popular crowd-pleasing songs, which as advertised, definitely pleased the crowd.
Something else Oktoberfest does differently is the food. It’s definitely a feature of the event, and it has to be since everyone is there from early afternoon well into the evening. If only the beer hadn’t been so filling! There was bratwurst, there was a whole pig on a roast spit, there were lovely little pastries and massive preztels, and a whole host of other delicacies to convince even the most dedicated dieter to splurge.
Now onto the beer. While the bus system had a couple kinks to work out, the bar most certainly did not. The two-tier system where one has to buy tokens from a separate table and then exchange them for beer means that we did practically zero queuing the entire day. Very impressive. Sometimes you would walk up to the bar and they already had a beer poured and ready to hand off. It was perfect. There was also a second bar which handled other forms of liquor besides huge steins of beer. This was a big hit with one attendee who when questioned, proclaimed, ‘Jaeger is my best friend!’
The free flowing alcohol certainly contributed to a friendly atmosphere and liberal amounts of dancing, but that doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Oktoberfest is not an event for the fainthearted, as the crowds grew increasingly rowdy as the day wore on. We were definitely made a bit uncomfortable at certain points by some of the more belligerently drunk guests, so a recommendation for next year would be a faster security response to those individuals who are making other partygoers feel unsafe. This behavior obviously doesn’t reflect the majority, or the hard work of the committee, and we were still able to bounce back and enjoy the rest of the evening.
A big part of the event is of course the fact that it is first and foremost a charity fundraiser. Since 2006, Oktoberfest has been donating the proceeds of the day to Tayside Children with Cancer and Lukaemia (TCCL). The funds raised yesterday will go towards building a holiday lodge for patients and their families so that they can relax and build happy memories together. Stay tuned to see how much was raised this year!
Overall, Oktoberfest 2015 was a huge success. There was good food, good music, and an all-around unique atmosphere. And everyone looked fantastic in their various forms of German dress. There was even one guy rocking a dirndl, who was hands down the uncontested winner for best dressed. Some advice for next year would be to go, definitely, but make sure to wear closed toed shoes. (Dark closed toed shoes. There will be mud.)
Danke schön to the committee for another great Oktoberfest!