First of all, what’s Volksfest you ask? Its the second biggest beer festival in Stuttgart Germany next to Oktoberfest, held in Munich. Whereas Munich has become more of a world wide tourist destination with people attending from everywhere, Volksfest is more of a authentic, smaller festival that has many more German attendees.
How did I end up there you ask? Well that’s a funny story. As it were I was supposed to be going with my friend Lizzy and we had plans to stay with her friend Marshall in Stuttgart. He’s another naval officer who got the luck of the draw and ended up living in Europe, like the rest of us, but he’s working with mostly Army guys at the Army bases in Germany.
Lizzy ended up having to get underway on a destroyer so she could get a qualification she needed, and in the middle of receiving her qualification, America began tomahawk airstrikes in Syria. The ship she was embarked on went to support the other ships during the mission. When we talked again, she told me that she wouldn’t be able to leave the ship at the scheduled time and therefore she would not be able to make it to Germany.
I couldn’t really get upset since she was out helping to keep our freedom, so I went ahead and emailed Marshall to see what he thought about me still coming, even though we had never met. He readily replied and told me to still come, and on Friday afternoon I headed out and with my backpack and no idea what the weekend would have in store.
Things were looking up because the day just prior to that I ran into the token British Pilot at the food court on base and I found out that he was also headed to Stuttgart and that we were on the same flight. He told me his seat number on the plane and being that Air Berlin is one of the few European airlines that doesn’t charge you for every little thing, I signed up to sit next to him.
After going through security at the airport the first table I come to there was a group of naval officers I knew, sitting enjoying beers and pastries. I found them before we even boarded the plane!
Once on board we continued our pre-drinking for the upcoming drinking event (we wanted to be well prepared) and before I knew it they were telling us it was time for landing. Say What!? That 1.5 hours just flew by!
Once in the airport we ran into some civilians that work on base with us that everyone knew and we pretty much had our group for the weekend.
After some back and forth with Marshall at the airport I finally figured out where he was located and within minutes we were merging onto the AutoBahn and headed into the heart of Stuttgart.
That night we wanted to keep it light in preparation for the ensuing debauchery so we ended up meeting a group of the people I met on the plane for dinner and we walked around the downtown area where we did some shopping and I found my Drindl! What is a drindl you ask? It happens to be the authentic dress that the females where during Oktoberfest/Volksfest/any beer fest being held in Germany during October. The men also have their token outfit which is called lederhosen.
Marshall took me to the store where he had bought his and the walls were lined with all kinds of options, so after trying on quite a few different color coordinated pieces I chose the one I wanted to wear!
I tried my first authentic German meal and boy was it wayyy better then anything I’ve ever had in America or anywhere else for that matter. I have not been the biggest fan of German foods, but after spending the entire weekend in Stuttgart with buttered pretzels, cakes, sausages, chicken, and pork, I LOVE GERMAN FOODS!
Once the dinner was done and the drinking complete we headed off to the metro to another stop and a chic bar in the center part of town.
So much for taking it easy the night before festivities huh?!
How does the festival work you ask? First you have the carnival area. It encompasses the entire area for Volksfest with carnival rides, food stalls, drink stalls, the rotating beer bar, all kinds of goodies for you to indulge in. Interspersed throughout are these giant tents that have long skinny tables in them and liters upon liters of beer, packed to the gills with people decked out in drindls and lederhosen ready for the fall beer festival celebration. On Saturday there are 2 sessions for every tent and you have to have tickets to both if you would like to attend. The first session begins at 1200 and the second session begins at 1700. Marshall had tickets for us on Saturday for the 1700 session in tent Gochelesmaier.
Which means we had all morning for activities to prepare for the festival!
When we finished our breakfast we decided to head over to the army base for some beer stein foolery in which I got to bring home the official Oktoberfest 2014 beer stein. Woo!
We arrived at the festival around 1600 so we had an hour to kill and what better way then with a 1/2 a liter of beer? The tickets we had were with the Stutgartt expats. What I didn’t realize was that there were about 200 expats all in the same tent. 200! Meaning pretty much everyone knew everyone and I was meeting people the entire day from all across the world! The majority of people were expats from Europe.
And so the drinking began… everyone told me not to bring my camera but I of course didn’t listen, that’s one of the perks to having my baby insured. Nothing bad happened to her but there were a few close calls throughout the night. eee!
I was a BIG fan of her hat.
Finally the wait was over and with our wrist bands in place, our beer tickets in hand, we were walking inside our tent to find our tables. It wasn’t really that hard since the expats had over half the tent reserved.
Trust the band to get everyone in the mood. Apparently the Germans love John Denver and apparently they love Country Roads!! I promised my entire table that if they played that song we would all stand on the table and scream it out loud. They happily agreed, except I never ended up hearing the song, tear. If only I could have got that on video.
Somehow in some way we were able to sneak Alejandro in. He’s another officer I work with in Naples and had gone to a day session but didn’t have a wristband for the night session. Even he can’t explain it but it was time to let the party continue.
Craziness everywhere. By this time there wasn’t a soul sitting inside of the tent.
By the time the night ended we were thoroughly dehydrated but thought it a good idea to head downtown. The dancing continued, the drinking continued, and at 4am when we finally made it home and collapsed into our beds we knew that it was blissful. What a great first day to Volksfest!
This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer.