Oktoberfest For Children
Bring The Babies For The Bratwurst
Travel with children can involve expensive logistics of a plane ride or just a long car ride to a local cultural spot close to home. I can remember driving to Helen, GA for their annual Oktoberfest for the first time when my daughter was about 7 years old. Driving from Decatur, GA, it gave us a mini road trip which my daughter first started to look forward to and enjoy after our first road trip to Mrytle Beach, South Carolina. While there is a lot of beer drinking, Oktoberfest has always been a safe, family-friendly festival. Even more awesome families, the festivals are usually FREE to attend. “Feier Weiter”, dude!
I can also remember attending an Oktoberfest in Germany (my mother was stationed in the Army) and watching with a curious and bewildered smile on my face as the German males sat in traditional Lederhosen around long wooden, picnic tables and happily sang while holding hands and rocking left and then right and then left again until they fell off the bench. There was just something comical and nonthreatening about it despite it being the result of too much alcohol.
Any Oktoberfest is certain to have traditional lederhosen (leather shorts with suspenders for men) and dirndl or tracht (maiden dress for women) on display. Costumes are just fun! Who said costumes were just for kids – have you not seen how serious Halloween is for some adults? Costumes have the power to release an aging adult’s inner child to pretend while at the same time giving a child the power to make super make-believe real. Whether you are a child or an adult, seeing the period Bavarian clothing is sure to help you lose yourself in the festivities. You’ll even feel compelled to at least try Schuhplattler. Nah, it’s not swaggy at all, but folksy will get you some points somewhere!
I loved brotchen (traditional German style bread roll) and gyros when I was in high school in Fulda, Germany. After basketball practice, most of the team would gather our stuff as quickly as we could and make it over to the pub to buy German bread and warmly slicked goat meat to eat on the ride home, which was about an hour from Fulda, Germany to Bischofsheim nightly. We would snuggle our tired bodies into our huge, comfortable seats on our Mercedes bus eating our nightly snack that was to hold us over until we made it home.
Unless your children are vegetarians, meat is usually the first thing to disappear of the dinner plate. The kiddos will be able to try Bratwurst, Weiner Schnitzel, Brisket and Pork Loin. It’s usually served up as finger food so have no fear. Sauerkraut while a bit more pungent for a younger pallet will still lure them in ’cause it looks so darn weird. When in doubt, you can stick to a pretzel. You must keep your eyes out for some German Chocolate Cake. While much of it is the same, it’s cooked and served up different. It’s an opportunity to indulge, but also share a culture with your little ones. Picky eaters – food to strange looking? Then, like with all travels, it’s a great opportunity to teach your children how to politely refuse without insult. After all, a lot of pride and love goes into making traditional cuisine.
If the sensory experience of the sights, sounds and taste are not quite tipping the scales, the traditional Oktoberfest activities are bound to bring it all full circle and have you put a pin in it – DONE! While sure to be toned down from the real deal celebration in Munich, Germany, the entire family can expect to see parades, rifleman displays, chicken dances and live music performances here in the United States. Of course, there are the more traditional children favorites like face painting and hay rides – no child will be disappointed.
Olly Olly Oxen Free!
I hope you make it out to an Oktoberfest with the children this October. There is absolutely no penalty for having the kids at a festival like this even though there is beer everywhere as it is traditionally known for being a fun family outing. With so much to do and see, it really like a sensory experience; different cuisine to taste, different musical instruments producing happy sounds, colorful costumes to grab your attention and crafts so you don’t have to leave empty-handed. While it’s enough to attend once to get an eventful idea of German culture, your traveling tykes are probably going to want to return at least one more time. Don’t feel limited by the local festivals. Each year the 16 day annual festival brings in millions to Germany to celebrate authentically. Where you decide to go the extra mile (or thousand) or stay local,
- Don’t be dissuaded by the thought of the beer at a family festival.
- Be open to trying as much as the traditional Oktoberfest food as possible.
- Look forward to the traditional Oktoberfest activities.
- Keep the smartphone hand to answer any questions the kiddos are certain to ask about the haps!