Having kicked off with “corporate night” on Wednesday, this year’s Oktoberfest opened to the general public on Thursday and ran through Sunday night. Just east of downtown, the bierfest takes place in tents near the Arkansas River, where women in dirndls and men in lederhosen wander among Tulsa’s young and old. For those who haven’t been, it works like this: you purchase a ticket and optional stein (liter or ½ liter) at the gate, and inside you buy food and drink tickets to exchange with vendors. It’s an expensive outing, but for any lover of beer, sausage, music, Germany, crowds or dancing on tables, the price is worth it.
After making it through the gate and filling our steins, my friend and I happened upon a performance of Das Glockenspiel. Four men in blue cloaks and sunglasses were standing on a platform above the Jägermeister bar, swaying back and forth to a German song I wish I knew the name of. At the song’s chorus the men would open their robes, scantily clad underneath, and in succession dip and spread their legs. Between their knees dangled a wooden ladle wound with rubber around each leg, and over each man’s groin a frying pan dangled. As they dipped from left to right, the ladles would swing up and audibly strike the pans. In turn, they stoically retreated into their cloaks. People cheered; it was comical and weird.
In almost every tend a band was performing. It was mainly Bavarian-sounding music that the bold and intoxicated danced to, but I also heard eurotechno, bluegrass and local bands, among other performances. Food trucks and tents lined the main causeway, offering bratwurst, Reubens, pretzels, pizza, potatoes, cheesecake and other German — or fair — like foods. I went with the sausage plate and my friend with the Rueben.
Something I didn’t take part in, though I secretly wanted to, were the rides. I wanted to ride the Ferris wheel; how often do you get a bird’s eye view of the river and downtown at night with a beer in hand? I couldn’t see myself climbing into the closed loopty-loop thing, or any ride that spun, after having two liters of beer and a sausage plate. Alas, we were out of tickets and it was closing time, so we wandered towards the gate among merchants selling gemstones, jewelry, clothes and other ephemera. We ran into some friends along the way and safely carpooled back home with our novelty steins in hand.
You’ll have to wait another year for the merriment to return, but you could hold over as the year winds down with a visit to Fassler Hall, or a viewing of “The Sound of Music,” I guess.