Even following last year’s cancellation, and with the threat of this year’s event going the same way after DONT WALK’s postponement, Oktoberfest 2019 proved a unmitigated triumph. Having an Oktoberfest celebration in March… in Scotland… may not seem like the most sound recipe for success for an event. Yet the committee managed it superbly, organising an all-day affair to rival the Polo in April with a hall decked with three bars and traditional German decorations.
Oktoberfest is primarily a charity event, supporting Tayside Children with Cancer and Leukaemia (TCCL) for the ninth consecutive year, with a lodge in St Andrews built and refurbished for families to spend a holiday in. Their mission statement suggests that this year’s event will likely “cover the entirety of the lodge’s running costs”, and every donation helps — find out more here.
In most cases pres started at 9:30, so the day started slow; hail covered the thousand-or-so attendees as they made their way to the buses. After handily guiding our driver to Craigtoun Country Park with the help of Apple Maps, we arrived to the marquee and were greeted by a German oompah band, three separate bars for champagne, Jägermeister, and the Oktoberfest special, the Friedenfelser Hefe-Weizen. With all drinks at £5 for either a cocktail, two shots, or a litre stein, the pricing seemed fairly in line with many events, and despite the weather, the festival feel had many feeling as if spring had sprung.
However, the event didn’t just rely on its drinks, despite what the event’s unofficial moniker of “Oktobeerfest” might have your believe: there was a classic fairground ride by the entrance (though it did need fixing at around 3pm). The weather held, mostly, though when it rained and snowed in the middle of the afternoon the guests headed to the dancefloor with a stein or two to escape the Scottish weather.
Oktoberfest’s feel and camaraderie made for a special event where, despite the befuddled looks of locals as I traipsed down South Street in leather shorts, everyone had a good time and revelled in the festival atmosphere. The band pandered to the crowd, playing hits like “Hey Jude” and “(Is This the Way to) Amarillo” just at the point when guests started to think about walking, bleary-eyed, to the buses back to town. With oven-baked pizzas, delicious bratwurst/currywurst, and traditional pretzels on offer, this event’s food didn’t disappoint, even though it took place far out of town, and away from the fabled delights of Dervish, Courtyard, and Empire.
Oktoberfest 2019 felt about as smoothly-run as I’ve ever been to in four years here, despite the troubles of our bus driver on the way in. With a great venue, tolerable weather (if a little chilly), and incredible decorations and drinks, the committee managed a successful day up at Craigtoun Park. They should also be commended for their impressive efforts at keeping the day under control despite being on their second and final warning with the council, with very few problems at the event itself, or on Friday’s “Secret Fridaze”. An event that combined a great day out with a charitable cause, Oktoberfest 2019 was a roaring success. Prost!
Photos courtesy of Tom Oldridge, Ewan Harvey, and Björn Lambrenos for Lightbox St Andrews.