The Chosen One: Stoke’s Oktoberfest
Editor’s note: over the winter we ran a competition to find the “Chosen One”, a one-of-a-kind, absolutely average, everyday hero who would win our Most Ordinary Extraordinary Job In The World — a summer of back-to-back Stoke Travel trips, where not only would they be expected to have the time of their life, but to also much in and set up tents/serve you heathens your beer. Well, our old mate Ryan is the winner, the Chosen One, and this is his blog about his time with Stoke Travel. Six trips down, and the season is sadly over, ah Ryno, was it the most fun of your life.
Immediately after the Stoke team cleaned up the mess we made in Valencia, a bus took us northward bound and we drove for thirty hours through what was left of Spain, France, and into Germany, reaching Camping Platz Obermenzing in Munich during the early morning hours. We donned our winter apparel, acquainted ourselves with the new team members, replaced chorizo and paella with wurst and schnitzel, traded skinny dipping in the ocean for cornfield and/or shower parties, and were given all manners of creative liberties to set up our own mini-festival. Our mission? The same as always. To create the most unbelievable, unparalleled pre- and post-party in the world.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I watched with sheer awe as the artists went to work creating brightly painted murals and signs across the campsite, depicting Stoke’s stance on the refugee crisis and, simply, complimenting the general aesthetic. I couldn’t believe the massive marquees being put up over the kitchen, main bar, and furnished lounge areas. I lent my hands in constructing fixtures across the campsite, the endless tents, an obelisk-type information tower, a second and secretive bar behind the swag tent, the massive stage where music played all day long, and the ever-faithful Wheel of Misfortune. Construction was nearly complete by the time guests arrived, and the rhetoric that followed exploded with the potential of possibilities. Boozy walking tours (including a trip to a nudist park and a man-made surfer wave), guided trips to Dachau, or the options to go to places like King Ludwig’s English Garden or Neuschwanstein Castle (the model for Walt Disney’s creative castle concept) supplemented the main event American study abroad students, quick trip tourists, and traveling nomads came to see.
The committed and the prepared rose at five in the morning on the third weekend in September (this year) to put on their lederhosen or dirndl, catch a bus and then a train, and then hang left almost the entire way until they stood outside the gates of the main event, Oktoberfest, until eight in the morning when they swung open to the world’s largest carnival. At every turn you could see kiosks selling souvenirs, pop-up food stands pushing out all manners of savory meats or delicious sweets, and rides or games with prizes that children and drunk adults coveted as they ran through the festival. At twelve noon, the doors for all the beer halls opened, and the mad rush to find a table that you and your friends would eventually try to demolish began. Each hall featured its own decor, its own chorus (band included), and its own beer, and you stood on the chairs and tables, dancing, smashing steins against each other, and cheering whenever somebody skulled their entire drink in one glorious chug.
When you finally had your fill of games or rides, fell asleep at your beer hall seat, vomited into your own stein, or got yourself ejected (looking at you Löwenbräu), you stumbled, arms-linked, back the way you came until eventually you arrived at the greatest afterparty in the world, where the singalong depended on the night, the bartenders raced you to the bottom of your drinks, and the food was always delicious. For three glorious weeks with Stoktoberfest, you could go on in this fashion, forgetting memories only your camera roll remembered, with friends that, no matter how hard you tried, you will never be able to replace. Along with the cumulative 12,000 beers drank during one Saturday on the second weekend. You degenerates.
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