It’s a loaded question, I know. Think about it. Who wants to admit that they start counting down the days to the next Great Northwest Oktoberfest sometime in mid-January, and that they actually began two-a-day workouts for the keg-hurling, stein-holding and brat-eating contests a full three months before the first keg will be tapped in Whitefish next Thursday night?
But strange as it may seem, the cold, hard fact of the matter is that there’s a group of diehard Oktoberfest junkies who will be waiting at the front gate when it opens each night at 5 p.m., eager not only to partake in the authentic (and plentiful) Bavarian food, music, beer, dancing and revelry that the festival is known for, but to prove their manliness (or womanliness) on what is possibly the most unlikely field of athletic competition – the Oktoberfest stage!
The 2013 Great Northwest Oktoberfest runs Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 3-5 at Depot Park in Whitefish, and for years now the Rocky Mountains’ finest log-sawers, waitress-racers and sausage-swingers have converged on Whitefish each for what has come to be known as the Olympics of Oddball Sporting Events – six nights of world-class competition that separates the men from the boys, the ladies from the men, and the true Okt-athlete from, uh, the rest of the audience.
Because, after all, the audience members are the athletes at Oktoberfest. Most of the time, a guy or gal will get up the gumption to try their hand at throwing kegs or sawing logs on a whim, a dare, or because their friend (or significant other) has signed them up for the contest without their knowledge or consent. That’s the way it usually happens.
But then there’s the OktoberBeasts, the ones whose arms still function after six grueling stein-holding contests in two days. No, they may not be able to lift a bratwurst all the way up to their mouth after Round 4, but hey – that’s what left hands are for! The Beasts turn out for every contest, every night, every hour, on the hour. The Contest Crew – aka the OktoberFesters – literally have to fight these guys (and gals) off to give other attendees a chance at Oktoberfest stardom.
Crowning the OktoberBeast … and Belle
This year, the Oktoberfest Braintrust (and we use the term loosely) decided that if we can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! So rather than try and dampen the enthusiasm of the Beasts and their Belles for contest competition, we’ve decided to celebrate it! For the first time in Oktoberfest history, organizers will host the Great Northwest Okt-athlon – a grueling seven-sport event designed to challenge the strength, endurance, balance and sobriety of even the most hardcore Oktathlete.
Think of it as the Decathlon of Oktoberfest – a competition that’ll ultimately crown a kind of Bavarian Bruce Jenner. Minus the Kardashians. And the botched plastic surgery.
Those seeking the title of OktoberBeast and OktoberBelle will compete in stein-holding, log-sawing, keg-hurling, brat-eating, barrel-rolling, waitress-racing and sausage-swinging (don’t ask), with three of the events staged on Thursday, Sept. 26, and the final four on the following Thursday, Oct. 3.
OK, I can hear the wheels turning already. How do I qualify? Do I need to bring my own saw? Or stein? Or sausage? What’s the GNOOC’s policy on steroids and human growth hormones? What the heck is the GNOOC? Do I need my parents’ permission?
The answers, in reverse order – No. Great Northwest Oktoberfest Oktathlon Committee. There is none. No. No. No. Just show up.
No, seriously, just show up for Local’s Night at Oktoberfest – Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5-11 p.m. – sign up with the Contest Crew, and you’re in! The first event begins promptly at 6:30 p.m., so be there no later than 6 if you want to be part of the action and the star of the show!
For more information on the Great Northwest Oktoberfest, call the Whitefish Chamber (862-3501) or visit www.whitefishoktoberfest.com.
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