"You know, they say Tulsa has the second largest Oktoberfest in the world" was a revelation convened to me by the manager of a local CVS store a few weeks ago. I have been buying a lot of ice cream there lately and by now the folks up front know that I travel quite a bit. So, once I told them that I was debating a last minute beer run to Europe for my third Oktoberfest in Munich, he proceeded to reassure me that I won't miss much if I just stick around in Tulsa.
Well, I did end up going for a quick ten day trip to Dublin, Munich, Frankfurt and Prague and was back in time for Tulsa Oktoberfest! Of course, I had to check it out. Especially since, while I was in Munich, I cave in and gotten myself a lederhosen - the Bavarian outfit worn by many at the original
Unlike the Wiesn, Oktoberfest in Tulsa is only a weekend-long celebration, starting on Thursday evening and finishing on Sunday. Also, the rules of the "game" are different here - in Munich, there is no fee to "enter" the grounds - the only thing you pay is for whatever goods
and services you consume and activities you partake in. In Tulsa, there was a $6 entry fee per day - already a factor to consider for someone wanting to go there multiple days. Furthermore, while cash is king at the Wiesn, we had to buy "tickets" first in Tulsa, before redeeming them later for beer, food, rides and anything else around - a clever cunning strategy to get people to overspend since there were no refunds for unused tickets.
Still, being sponsored by Lufthansa (turns out they have a pretty large maintenance facility at Tulsa airport), Tulsa Oktoberfest rightfully claimed some legitimacy with many German beers represented. Lufthansa also flew in two bands from Germany to perform at their tent. Still, the irony of the beers actually being served at Lufthansa tent didn't escape me:
It worth noting another difference here - in Munich, each tent serves only one kind of beer. Obviously, this was not the case in Tulsa.
I wouldn't stand by the "second largest in the world" claim, but Oktoberfest grounds in Tulsa were actually bigger than I expected them to be. It was also at a nice location on the banks of Arkansas river with some beautiful views.
Once on the grounds, the first thing that caught my eye was people wondering around with their mugs. In Munich you can only get a beer once you are inside the tent AND once you find yourself an open spot at a table. While the first is an easier feat (but not easy by any means), the second might take time and some clever ways (usually both) to accomplish. In Tulsa, you are free to roam around and refill your plastic masskrug anywhere you like.
Besides the atrocity of plastic mugs, having volunteers fill them up (at $10 a pop they couldn't pay people? or at least train them to fill it up properly?), and dare do I mention using the same mugs for Weizenbier (I was surprised there weren't any Germans having a heart attack on the spot), there were other things adding local flavor to Tulsa Oktoberfest:
And it would not have been an international celebration without meeting a fellow international traveler - Stacey has just returned from a month-long trip around Australia and South East Asia. She originally stumbled upon my blog and we connected on Facebook while I was road tripping around the US this summer. Then she was away. Then I went on my beer run. But it finally happened!
All-in-all, it was a fun-filled day at the festival. Was it comparable to Munich? Absolutely not. Was it fun and worth the six bucks to get in? Absolutely. Prost!