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Oktoberfest by Zoom

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

For promoting International Fellowship Zoom is something that works really well and that was shown again by holding an Oktoberfest event on Thursday 9th November. The event was hosted by Erlangen Rotary, over 25 York Rotary members participated along with 14 members from Erlangen. Members from both York and Erlangen dressed appropriately for an Oktoberfest occasion.

After introductions the evening started by trying to sing a short German song by Zoom, the singing did not work too well because of the Zoom time lag, but we soon learned that at the end of the singing there was an effective count 1, 2 Suppen (3) and that was the signal to raise your stein or glass for a drink, which was repeated several times during the evening. The steins were generously provided by Erlangen and arrived in the UK by post before the event, fortunately most of them were still in tact after the post!

We were then told about the history of Oktoberfest which was first held in 1810 and with the exception of 24 years where cancellation was necessary it has been held 188 times. There are many aspects to the event including fair ground rides, horse racing, a great parade, musical entertainment and of course fantastic food and drinking. The great parade is 7km long and that includes much music.

The 2023 event was held over 18 days, one of which was a public holiday, it attracted 7,200,000 visitors who drank 6,500,000 litres of beer, but interestingly the sale of non alcoholic beers increased by 50%. There were 14 large beer tents and 21 small, with a total of 130,000 seats. The waiting staff can carry trays of 14 full one litre steins at a time, weighing 30kg, fortunately they do not spill too much beer.

There were 100 fairground stalls and the turnover from Oktoberfest was 500,000,000 euro. The event employs 13,000 staff and apparently hotels within an 80km radius of Munich are always fully booked for the event.

We learnt duties of the varied food available at Oktoberfest – “A hoibs Gockarl (spit-roasted chicken) and An Ochsn (Spit roasted ox). We also heard details of the varied costumes that are worn for the event.

The details of the fairground rides were a fascinating part of the presentation, many were very colourful and from videos that we saw some are a challenge to go on, namely the conveyor belt ramp and that was challenging even before having had anything to drink!

One of the weekends is known as the Italian weekend, many Italians visit with their camper vans, after plenty of drinks tempers get frayed and many cannot then find their way back to their accommodation, medical centres are apparently overloaded. In spite of the challenges this is a fun weekend.

Finally we learnt some of the dos and don’ts of Oktoberfest:

· Dance on chairs only, not on the tables

· Do not bring your own food

· Being in a bad mood is not a good idea

· Don’t drink so much that you cannot find your way home

· Don’t try to take steins home with you, there is a fine

· Don’t try to reserve seats

· What happens in the beer tent has to remain in the beer tent

· Use only authorised toilet facilities

· Don’t photograph embarrassing situations

· Celebrate with tolerance and not aggression

After the presentations which were great fun we then had a multiple choice quiz in break out rooms. The eight questions were to guess the meanings of 8 German words, the words were obscure ones that could not easily be researched via Google. Friends from Erlangen joined is in breakout rooms and tried to advise/confuse us about the meanings of the words. The team scores were between 4 and 7 out of 8 and a prize of Lebkuchen was awarded to the winning team.

Prizes were then awarded for fancy dress and food and drink to the York Rotary rooms. Whilst from York we had seven rooms participating three were large involving between 4 and 7 people. Many people dressed for the evening or decorated their Zoom screens appropriately for the evening, Mary Lumley’s room won the prize for their yellow, red and black dress and hats inspired and made by Mary.

In terms of food Mike Hay’s room won the prize, they ate all sorts of typical German snacks, some that they made, but most purchased from the local Polish deli, which included sauerkraut. Another room that might have won a prize was Frank Paterson’s but unfortunately he lost his internet connection part way through the evening and rather than an Oktoberfest them he missed the brief and adopted a Yorkshire/Scottish theme in terms of dress and food, serving Yorkshire puddings filled with haggis and a drinks display of whiskey. In spite of the internet setbacks Frank’s room still had great fun.

Overall the evening was enjoyed by everyone who participated, we thank Erlangen Rotary for all the work that they put into the preparation and planning of presentations, particularly Wilfried, Horst, Michael and Johannes. As well as having fun we learnt a lot during the evening.

The challenge now is to find another new fun event to organise by Zoom in the future.

David Fotheringham

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