OktSober Fest: A guide for nondrinkers

To the relief of non-drinkers everywhere, Oktoberfest is a celebration of German culture.

by Isabella Romano

Oktoberfest is an all-ages event, and there’s a reason for that — it’s not all about the beer. 
“The beer is historically what people think Oktoberfest is about,” promoter Hank Hanten said. “And that is an important part, but it’s also supposed to be for everyone.”
For those who are underage or who just don’t drink, there’s plenty of culture to experience at the Twin Cities Oktoberfest, including German food and classic German music. 
This will be the sixth year of the festival in the Twin Cities. Oktoberfest, which is held in a number of cities around the world, is a 
tradition stemming from a royal wedding in Germany.
“All culture is important,” Hanten said. “It’s important that we keep culture and tradition alive, and this festival is just steeped in German culture.”
One of the most important aspects of the festival is the food, provided by Duck Soup Catering, a partnership between renowned Twin Cities chefs, Dan Runyon and Peter Metzger. 
Runyon and Metzger enjoy dabbling in many different kinds of world cuisines.
“As a cook, it’s important to go out of your way to learn different styles of cooking,” Runyon said. “That’s what fills your book and makes all of your food more flavorful. But [Metzger] and I are both German and were raised on German food.”
Consequently, they are especially proud of their German cuisine, which is sold at Oktoberfest at a stand called Frau Debenschlager. 
Nearly all of the meat is locally sourced from Minneapolis and St. Paul companies. 
Runyon recommends the “chickenwurst” with a 1919 root beer on the side. The chickenwurst is a patty made of ground chicken, flavored with bratwurst seasoning, topped with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, all in the middle of a pretzel bun. According to Runyon, the 1919 root beer is the best German keg root beer the Twin Cities has to offer. 
In addition, Frau Debenschlager will have Polish sausage, sauerbraten, pork loin roast, potato salad, red cabbage and chocolate cake for dessert. 
For the picky eaters out there, Frau Debenschlager will also be serving up “festival food,” such as corn dogs, hamburgers and fries. 
The entertainment at the festival will be a celebration of German life. 
“It’s a matter of upholding the traditions of our forefathers,” Mark LaCourse, a German dancer with S.G. Edelweiss, said. “The dances that we do were brought here by Bavarians who immigrated. We are keeping alive who the Bavarian person is.”
LaCourse has been German dancing all his life, since his mother and father were also German dancers. He says the dance performed by S.G. Edelweiss at the fest is the Schuhplattler, a male-dominated dance involving intricate footwork and heel clapping. 
Traditional German music will play all day, featuring The Squires and the Bavarian Musikmeisters. 
There will be games and other entertainment, including corn hole, a beer bottle breaking game, photo booths and authentic German clothing tents. 
Beyond the food, music and entertainment, Hanten and Runyonboth said that their favorite part of Oktoberfest is the “geselligkeit,” or camaraderie. 
“What I enjoy most is the comradery of all the people there,” Hanten said. “Everyone is friendly and having a great time. I think it’s the festival’s defining quality.”