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Monday, September 23, 2002


My wife and I went to Oktoberfest in downtown Cincinnati over the weekend. It's billed as the largest Oktoberfest apart from the real thing in Munich.

The event is a major deal around these parts because Cincinnati has so many people of German ancestry.

Let's see. We had the prince of Bavaria here. (He's a real guy and a real prince, not some college student dressed up in a fuzzy prince suit like you'd see at The Magic Kingdom in Disneyland.)

We also had Verne Troyer, the guy who plays Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies. He led the crowd in the annual "World's Largest Chicken Dance."

There was also lots of food. Most of it was German-oriented, but there was also a special exhibit handing out free samples of canned ravioli--the kind the lunch ladies would spoon from vats onto your plastic plate in the lunch line at elementary school. It was free, so I couldn't resist. But it wasn't very German. (They also handed out free pudding samples.)

There was beer ahoy, and thank goodness most people were showing a preference for my new find, Warsteiner. It's MUCH better in draft form than the bottled version I'd had previously

Some folks insisted on drinking Miller from plastic bottles.

So, let's see. For Oktoberfest we had a dancing midget, canned ravioli and American beer in shatterproof bottles.

Makes you wonder what a corresponding "Amerikafest" in Germany would entail.

I guess I wanted the event to be more German. Why not have:

1. A photography competition in which citizens from our sister city, Munich, take pictures of their home town. Citizens there vote on the best ones. Then, we ship over pictures of Cincinnati, and Munich people vote on those. Same thing in reverse happens over here. You get to compare your votes to the Germans, see how they picture their town and show them how we picture ours.

2. German products. Not the cuckoo clock and lederhosen stuff. BMW is based in Munich. How about them sending a display showing how they make the cars.

3. Traveling Hofbrauhaus. Why not send a few tables, chairs and scenery from the real thing to Cincinnati?

4. Reporter exchange. We send some of ours there, and they send some of theirs here to report on the event.

5. Basic language instruction. The Home Depot has those little seminars in the store where they teach you how to do stuff like hang wallpaper or do stucco. Why not have little 10-minute German lessons? Teach people how to sing that "Prosit" drinking song, if nothing else.

6. Berlin Wall Exhibit. Yeah, it's old news now, but I'd go look at some crap from the wall.

My thought process here is the same as when I go to a Thai restaurant I like in town. Sure, Thai food is a little spicy, but I want them to fix it they way they'd do it if they were eating it. Don't water it down because I'm American.

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