We almost missed it. When at 8pm on Saturday we decided to check it out it was already over for the day. Clearly beer drinking is not a way to spend an evening. We don’t really know what the rules are for an Oktoberfest held in September. They may as well color beer pink and serve with cookies for all we know.
The next day we wait till 12pm in accord with the unwritten rule of no drinking before noon, unless to cure a hungover and venture into the crowd milling among the stands. In an attempt to move away from a yodeling band in lederhosen we spot Polish food. I go to secure it while Damian tries to buy beer. Not that simple. In order to exchange money for alcohol one needs to purchase a ticket. The booth is located at the end of the fest ground. We get carded and receive wrist bands and then we can buy tickets. And T-shirts. And pins. And commemorative beer mugs from 2008 at a discount in lieu of this year’s ones. The lady in charge of transactions seems to be slightly affected by the joyous atmosphere. Confused by an uncooperative terminal she takes Damian’s credit card hostage and then has problems procuring a receipt. We run away before she decides to take our hard won tickets away.
There are only two breweries represented: Breckenridge and Paulaner. Aiming to increase the selection they also offer wine. Wine! I hope they don’t pour it into beer mugs but I am not going to check. We pick two different kinds of beer and are handed cups with an alarming sign made from corn. Cups I hope, not beer although I wouldn’t put it past the corn industry to push it after an attempt to shore up the demand for high fructose syrup by renaming it corn sugar.
The beer is good, cold, refreshing. What passes for traditional German beer food abounds: pretzels, sauerkraut, bratwurst. The band plays polkas, emcee sports a fake German accent and invites the public to the chicken song. No sane person can survive it all while not under influence. But judging by the crowd reaction there is little danger of soberness.
A different kind of entertainment is offered for environmentally minded: recycling. Regular trashcans are locked and replaced by drab tents with three holes (for recyclables, compost and waste) and two slots (paper and cardboard). Each tent has an attendant. When we hesitantly approach to throw away what’s left after we had the Polish food (which is not much), she instructs: everything except silverware goes here. We still mess it up as it turns out plastic forks are not recyclables and the paper plate is not trash. Bread is compost, she adds. Or you can eat it. Hopefully before I put it into the right opening in the tent. The cups made of corn turn out to be compostable.
After that interaction I am not surprised people don’t recycle. It is way too complicated. Unless every household hires a dedicated instructor. Which incidentally may also solve the problem of unemployment. Or we can just continue to send trash to China to be sorted - we still import more then we export so why send empty container when we can fill it with waste? And China needs the raw materials to produce all the gizmos Americans are going to buy with their recycle attendant wages.