Sunday, September 07, 2008
I keep telling Joe Fish that he wouldn't really want to go with me on these trips, even if I could take him. What would he have done at the Oktoberfest in Choctaw, Oklahoma?
They moved the Kinder Zelt (Children's Tent) from its quiet space of last year to the main thoroughfare as folks came into the festival, just past the booths for food and beer tickets.
Behind the Kinder Zelt was a big field. At one end were bouncy houses and a giant bungee contraption. Closer to the Kinder Zelt was where on Friday they put up a hot air balloon (have you ever heard those burners? LOUD!) and on Saturday they had a classic car show.
The oompah music was only a little louder than last year, nothing like the sound bleed of the Irish Festival last week. Once again, the Kinder Zelt offered crafts, facepainting (I'm not convinced that acrylic paint is appropriate), sack races, egg and spoon races, hula hoop demonstrations. There was a helium tank for the high school students to fill balloons and make funny voices.
Oh, yes, and storytelling. Fortunately, I had some focused listeners, and the sound system provided was good. On Friday, there were two three-year-olds in particular who listened intently for a long time. On Saturday some of the youngest German dancers came to listen between their sets on the main stage. I officiated at most of the competitions, when I was on break from telling stories. I told German stories, along with other European folktales and stories from books.
It was far from an ideal setup for storytelling. I was crabby about it earlier, but after writing this, I remember that some of it was quite fun.
At the end of Saturday, I was wiped out. I dined on smoked bratwurst with spicy mustard, red cabbage and a dark beer while I watched the dancing.
I heard one fellow ask another if he was going to join in the chicken dance. "I can't." Long pause. "I'm not wearing a belt and my pants might fall down." When that dance was over, the band struck up "On the bayou," that classic German ballad. I wish I had pictures of one couple I was watching--they were quite good, well synchronized with lots of fancy moves, but the man looked like he was roping a steer! It wasn't just because he was wearing cowboy boots, either.
If I'd taken Joe Fish, he would have cowered somewhere, maybe in the booth where they sold giant beer steins and tee shirts, or maybe under the strudel booth. And he would have hated the six-hour drive there and back.