Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Five ways to rock Oktoberfest

Culture | September 25th, 2019

Munich Oktoberfest - photograph by Alicia Underlee Nelson

It’s prime Oktoberfest season, both in Germany and here in the upper Midwest. I visited a biergarten and a beer tent at Oktoberfest in Munich (the place where the party started way back in 1810), then bellied up to a communal table at Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart to hoist a beer stein and learn how the Germans celebrate.

I came away with five tips for enjoying Oktoberfest to the fullest, whether you’re in Germany or the Midwest. Try them yourself at one (or five!) of the Oktoberfest celebrations coming up in North Dakota and Minnesota.

1. Dress up

Do you have to wear a dirndl or lederhosen to have a blast at Oktoberfest? No. But does it make it more fun? Absolutely.

In Germany, younger party-goers have made traditional German folk costumes cool again. You’ll see guys rocking lederhosen (short leather breeches) that have been handed down through the generations. Those without Germany ancestry – or with bigger bones than granddad -- can purchase costumes at virtually any train station in Munich or Stuttgart, at shops lining on the way to the festival grounds and even in grocery stores.

Those of us in the States can purchase a costume online, in a Halloween shop (the timing is perfect), or piece together an outfit from a thrift shop or our own closets. Guys will need cropped pants, suspenders, a checkered shirt and an alpine hat. Ladies should look for an off-the-shoulder blouse, a corset top or dress with a full skirt and a half apron.

2. Pace yourself

When you ask for ein maß (pronounced “eye-n mahs”) in Germany, your server will bring you a liter of beer. That’s a little more than double what the average beer mug contains in the U.S., so don’t chug it unless you want to join the ranks of die bierleichen (“beer corpses”) who’ve nodded off at the table. If you don’t have the willpower to sip, order non-alcoholic beer or soda occasionally. (Don’t forget to say bitte – that means “please.”)

In the Midwest, Oktoberfest festivities often feature craft beer tastings or pub crawls, so you need to be mindful of your alcohol intake here as well. Craft beer can have a high alcohol content, so ask about its ABV (alcohol by volume). Anything higher than 4.2% (the ABV of an average domestic lager) might throw your off your game. And all those sample cups add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.

And whatever you do, hydrate by alternating water and beer. Your body will thank you.

Oktoberfest in Munich - photograph by Alician Underlee Nelson

3. Don’t be shy

There are no wallflowers at Oktoberfest. In Munich, they were dancing on the tables in the Marstall tent by 1:00 p.m. You’re seated on benches at long, communal tables, so strangers become drinking buddies in minutes.

If you’re actually in Germany, there will be drinking songs like Ein Prosit.

that you’ll somehow learn through osmosis, even if your German is terrible like mine, and lots of traditional music. Midwestern festivities often include polka bands and lots of toasts. So raise your glass, utter a hearty prost (cheers!)and dance.

4. Eat – a lot

Beer fills you up, so you probably won’t feel hungry. But you should schedule time to eat anyway.

German celebrations feature hearty fare like schnitzel, bratwurst and roasted chicken (by far the most popular dish) to soak up all that alcohol. You can purchase food at stalls or have it delivered right to your table in the beer tent to circumvent your own beer-induced laziness.

Midwestern celebrations are often hosted by German communities, which offer traditional German dishes and other regional specialties, so attend the dinner, if one is scheduled. Or get food from vendors before you sit down and start drinking. Most places will at least have some pretzels to keep you going in a pinch.

5. Designate a driver

Every European I’ve ever met thinks it’s baffling that Americans drive to drinking events in the first place. So learn from their example and take public transportation, or spring for a taxi, Uber or Lyft. Nobody wants this Oktoberfest celebration to be your last.

Keep the party going with weeks of Oktoberfest celebrations in the region:

September 28

Oktoberfest Mandan

Mandan, ND

Pack your lederhosen and dirndl and head to this beloved family-friendly celebration inDykshoorn Park. Looks for lots of German and American food, craft beer tasting, kids games and live music starting at 11:30 a.m.

October 4-5, and October 11-12


New Ulm, MN

This two-weekend event is consistently voted the coolest Oktoberfest celebration in Minnesota and one of the best in the nation. The entire city celebrates with food, drinks, shopping, a parade and free live music.

October 4

Napoleon Oktoberfest

Napoleon, ND

The White Maid Restaurant and Bar offers free snacks, Oktoberfest beer, the high-energy accordion stylings of Viktor Wald at 8 p.m., and a stein holding contest at midnight. Anyone in traditional German attire scores a free beer. (701) 754-2777

October 5

Ashley Chamber Fifth Annual Oktoberfest and German-RussianDay

Ashley, ND

Celebrate in the heart of small town German-Russian country with authentic German food, beer tastings, activities for the kiddos and a whole lot of bingo. The old-fashioned dance is a highlight.

October 5

Gull Lake Oktoberfest

Nisswa, MN

This pub crawl joins forces with Grand View Lodge’s Golftoberfest, which offers live music in a heated tent. $25 gets you a mug, shuttle transportation between seven different watering holes and a beer sample at each location.

[Editor’s note: Alicia Underlee Nelson is a freelance writer and photographer. She co-hosts a podcast called “Travel Tomorrow,” available at and wherever you find your podcasts.Her first book, titled “North Dakota Beer: A Heady History,” was published in 2017. Follow her adventures at]

Recently in:

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comThat old adage no longer applies: There is now such a thing as a free lunch, and it is here to stay. With help from a willing community, the founders of Lunch Aid North Dakota are continuing their…

By Michael M. Miller  michael.miller@ndsu.eduGermans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo,…

Sons of Norway, Kringen Lodge #4-25, is a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Norwegian culture.Sentrum på 722 2nd Ave N, FargoKringen Kafe er åpen for Kaffe og Bakverk mandag-fredag 9.00 til…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comOur opinion: Let our character and characters define usIt’s no secret that North Dakota is one of our nation’s least visited states, in fact I can think of a handful of folks I’ve chatted…

By Ed A Shock to the Best Congress Money Can Buy: Money Eliminates Poverty! An amazing revelation shocked conservative politicians of both political parties when COVID-19 virtually tanked the U.S.…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

By Sabrina“If you had talked to me five years ago or even a year ago and told me I was gonna be a chef in Fargo I probably would have looked at you pretty funny. It's wild where food is taking me in…

By Sabrina Hornung  sabrina@hpr1.comAmanda Standalone is a force, in fact one could say she’s an old soul with the Midas touch of…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comBefore she introduced us, mutual friend Morgan Davy told me that Anthony Strand had the uncanny ability to remember the exact running time of every movie he had seen. And he has seen a lot of…

By  Sabrina Hornung sabrina@hpr1.com2021 marks the 18th annual FMVA Studio Crawl, the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists’ largest event. This year 38…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Theresa L. Goodrichsubmit@hpr1.comIt was day ten of our epic southwest road trip and we’d made it to Arizona. After camping in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico, we were exhausted, but fortunately our night in…

by Annie Prafckesubmit@hpr1.com17 June 2021On June 19th, from 12pm to 7pm, nonprofit Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund is hosting their first ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. It is free and open to the…