Oktoberfest 2009 is upon us. It starts this Thursday at 5pm and runs through 6pm on Sunday, providing Tulsans with a weekend of fun, games, music, food and one other very important thing.
Beer. What I'm not-so-alluding to is lots and lots and lots of delicious, refreshing beer.
So, that's at least one thing you know to do once you get to RiverWest Festival Park (that's at 2100 S. Jackson Avenue, for you Google Mappers) this weekend for Tulsa's Oktoberfest. As for how to get down with the rest of this festival, the one that makes the souls of the beer lovers of this town sing, here's a list of the top 10 ways to make the most of one of Tulsa's largest outdoor festivals, named by USA Today as one of 10 great places to toast Oktoberfest worldwide.
- Pick a designated driver. As if this actually needed to be said in a post about Tulsa's largest beer festival, but I like to play it safe and so should you. Not only is a DUI case a pain in the butt to deal with should you get caught breaking the law, but it's also a great way to take a chance on ruining the lives of some fellow community members. Causing the death of someone's family member, a parent or even a child - now that's what I call a buzzkill. So, as teacher says, have a good time, but don't think and drive.
- Take the kids to Das Jugendzelt (the kids' tent). Musicians, storytellers and artists will be on tap to entertain the kiddos while they take part in lots of free arts and crafts projects. Click here for the schedule of musicians in the kids' tent at this year's Oktoberfest.
- Race a weiner dog. Or, toss a pretzel. Maybe you're game is bier barrel racing. Whatever Oktoberfest sport suits your fancy, you can get your fill at this year's festival right here in Tulsa. Now you can tell your momma that all that time you spent honing your beer pong skills won't go to waste. Bier Barrel Race spectators should tune in Saturday, and weiner dog fans should be ready to go at 1pm Sunday. The other games take place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday.
- Learn the Polka. Oktoberfest offers a wide variety of entertainment and music, ranging from local bands and performers to authentic German musicians. There's fun to be had and music to be heard in just about every tent at the festival and, thanks maybe to the beer, everyone dances. On my list of acts to see are the Polkameisters, GAST and Kinderdeutch and Hula Halau O'Leilani. See? There's something for everyone.
- Ride the rides, take a chance. The best deal on Oktoberfest rides happens Sunday, thanks to the EZ Ride Pass. For $15, festival goers looking for a thrill can enjoy an unlimited ride pass that works all over Oktoberfest. Sunday is a double-whammy for you lovers of all things surprise and chance out there, since the folks at Oklahoma Lottery will be handing out free scratchers tickets all day long. Better get around early, though, because those suckers will go fast.
- Visit Das Sports Cafe. I guess The Sports Cafe doesn't translate well to the German, but what goes on inside sure translates well to fun. Not only is this the best place to catch the weekend football games thanks to the big screen TVs, but it's also the home to a new aspect of the festival: The taps spewing local brew. Be sure to grab plenty of the Oktoberfest-style beer from Marshall Brewing Company, and say hi to the folks in Tulsa from Krebs at Choc Beer Company, too.
- Do the chicken dance with the Biermeister. Lovingly known as the main tent among long-time Oktoberfest Tulsa goers, Das Bier Garten is that place where everyone from Junior to Grandpa can flap their wings and do the chicken dance with the Biermeister, pictured above, on top of a picnic table. The required high-energy music will be provided by bands from Germany while you learn to polka and, if you don't already know it, that signature dance of Oktoberfest Tulsa.
- Eat Kartoffelpuffer and Bavarian pretzels. While you're at it, eat some knackwurst, bratwurst and sauerkraut. At the second-ever year of Oktoberfest Tulsa in 1980, the 100,000 patrons consumed 3,500 pounds - that's a ton and a half - of the stuff. Sissies! Surely the patrons of this year's festival can beat that. The yummy stuff is available throughout the festival grounds, but you can't turn around in Das Ess Zelt und Garten without refilling your plate with everything from Siegi's Sausage to strudel to schnitzel to Ludger's cheesecake (click here for a full list of what's cookin' at this year's Oktoberfest). While you might put away more food than you have since the Tulsa State Fair, you won't have to eat much to understand why Bon Appetit voted back in 2005 that Oktoberfest Tulsa is the place to get the best German food.
- Shop 'til you drop. Because the food prices aren't anything like what we all paid for a few bites at the fairgrounds earlier this month, you'll be able to boost the local economy by taking home some of the many arts and crafts available for purchase at Oktoberfest Tulsa. Don't forget the commemorative beer stein and an Oktoberfest Tulsa t-shirt. As my friend Sindy in Tulsa would so lovingly say, "Tasha, that is so Bavarian."
- Get in free. There are at least three ways to get through the gate at Oktoberfest this year without paying a dime. First, admission is $0 on Friday until 4pm. Second, and thanks to the dudes at Geek Rescue, admission is free to anyone who presents this Oktoberfest coupon on opening night. Third, anyone who hasn't yet celebrated his or her 13th birthday gets in free all weekend long. That doesn't mean that if you didn't celebrate your 13th birthday because no one liked you and couldn't be bothered with planning you a party that you get in free, though. Sorry on both counts.
As if you need more convincing to head to the west bank of the Arkansas this weekend, Oktoberfest Tulsa benefits RiverParks, one of Tulsa's most treasured locales and a top tourism attraction for the city, which has benefited from nearly $1 million worth of improvements and enhancements thanks to the festival.
Admission to Oktoberfest is $5, and remember, kids aged 12 and under get in free. For details on how Festival Money works (don't worry, it's a breeze) and parking and any other detail not listed here, check out the Oktoberfest Tulsa Web site.