The summer and fall is full of sunshine, beautiful weather and German Festivals galore! Before you get dressed in your dirndl or lederhosen for Bavarian Blast, Zinzinnati Oktoberfest or Wurstfest here is the quick, must-have checklist to get the most out of whichever fest you are going to.


image of a girl wearing a black dirndl at german fest mikwaukee

I’ve committed to staying hydrated. Having a water in between beers is key to keeping hydrated during the usually warm to hot fest season. But even if it’s an Oktoberfest and the weather is cool, a cup of water between the Schnapps, Wein und Bier is a good idea. So don’t foget the Wasser!

I’ve checked the forecast and have packed appropriately. Pack a sunscreen with a higher SPF because a blouse burn or a lederhosen-tan is like afarmers-tan hopped up on Schnapps! Nobody likes that sweetheart neckline for the rest of the summer! On the flip side… the open air fest grounds might have some tents, but if it starts to rain you may need to venture out from under the shelter for another beer, so don’t forget an umbrella. 

◊ I am ready to get my polka on! Don’t just loiter around the dance floor… get out there!! If you don’t know how, maybe there are some dance groups performing that you can watch and get some pointers, or you can check out some YouTube video polka bands like Alex Meixner and practice at home before the event. How are you going to become a pro if you don’t practice?  

I also had the opportunity to talk to Alex about his performances at different festivals and he said, “Earlier in the day we cater to more of the traditional and family crowd... so if you want to learn about and enjoy the culture and background of the songs- those shows are more likely to be your cup of tea... (and I always enjoy having conversations with people about the differences in the Austrian/ Slovenian repertoires as opposed to the North German and Egerlander styles, etc...). Later in the evening, it's generally a younger, drinking, party atmosphere where our band will bring out more of our mashups with American rock anthems and international drinking songs. But… I do my best to keep everyone satisfied so there's a chance you might hear an errant Ozzy request fulfilled at the 2pm set and a Strauss Waltz in the 10pm set 😄. 

◊ I’m mentally prepared to try new foods! Yes, the brats and pretzels are good… but try some Spanferkel, Knoedel, Kasseler Rippchen, Kartofelpoffer, or Goulash. Those are just some of my favorites that are offered at some of the German Festivals. 

◊ I’m aware that excessive amounts of German beer, wine and schnapps may result in a little hangover… but I have ibuprofen at the ready. Sometimes we get a case of the “hanging Sundays”, but that’s nothing a good ol’ kartofflepuffer (potato pancake), 2 ibuprofen and some water can’t fix!

 I’ve got my Dirndl and Lederhosen ready!  You know what makes every German Festival more fun? Dressing the part!! If you don’t have a trachten shop in your area (which isn’t very unlikely) you can check out online retails like Rare Dirndl, Bavarian Specialties or Ernst Licht. However, the $40 beer wench or a Brüno costume you got at Halloween Headquarters… not appropriate. Save that for another day (like never). 

 I’ve checked off everything on this list and I’m ready for the fest!!

Looking for a local Oktoberfest in your area or a German restaurant to wear your dirndl to? Click here to get our FREE Resource Guide full of articles and a comprehensive list of festivals and restaurants.

August 01, 2018 — Erika Neumayer

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