Vincent Matthew Franco
Plastic mugs of beer, alphorns, Lederhosen and a No Doubt cover band called “No Duh” was what made up the scene for the return of Oktoberfest Friday night at the Fairplex in Pomona.
Taking place from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for the next two weekends of October, visitors will be able to enjoy nights full of drunken debauchery accompanied by the sounds of German folk music.
Right at the stroke of 6 p.m., three men dressed in Lederhosen signified the start of the festival by playing alphorns, several meter pipe-looking instruments that touched the floor at the entrance of expo hall 10, where the event was held. The crowd started off small but it did not take long for it to grow into a sea of people happily chugging and shouting “Prost,” which means cheers in German.
Expo hall 10 was decorated to look as if it was surrounded by a stone castle with mannequins that had blonde braided hair and were dressed in traditional German dresses. It was full of long rows of tables for visitors, overlooked by a 12-piece band that played the music of Germany all night long, never skipping a beat.
This was also where they held various challenges throughout the night, as well as chicken and line dancing.
First, there was a woman’s stein-holding competition.
A stein is a giant glass mug and the premise of the competition was to see who could hold it the longest while it was full to the rim with water.
“I love it,” Cerritos resident Jessica Stockwell said. “It’s a lot better than I thought. I’m not a fan of beer, I’m more of a wine drinker so even though it’s mostly beer based, the entertainment, the challenges, and the games are so much fun.”
Stockwell won sixth place in the women’s stein holding competition, a personal victory she said she is proud of.
There were three more competitions throughout the night after that; a men’s stein holding competition, a woman’s drinking contest and lastly a men’s drinking contest.
Outside the expo hall a strong smell of German style bratwursts, pretzels, and of course, because it is the Pomona Fairplex, King Taco filled the air. The lines for beer never slowed down or shortened, and No Duh kept everyone entertained with not only the songs of No Doubt but other popular one-hit wonders from the 1990s.
“I like just getting an opportunity to think outside of the ordinary, like you have your routine but when you come to events like this, you get to be a little bit more extra and it’s always fun to just dress up,” Crystal Rodriguez, an education specialist in the Los Angeles school district, said.
Rodriguez and her boyfriend, Ramon Riviera, were both dressed up in Lederhosen, traditional German garments that are similar to overalls but are usually leather and short or knee length.
Riviera said at first he felt out of his comfort zone in his getup but as his night went on he stopped caring and focused more on enjoying his night, thanks to some liquid courage.
The night went on and the beer taps kept flowing but it did not take long until an unfortunate guest had to be transported out on a gurney after passing out on the cold cement floor. This was only a blip for those who caught sight, as the party continued in expo hall 9 with DJ Schlagen, who in comparison to the other musical acts, was banging out more modern tunes.
It was no surprise that as it hit 11 p.m. the more vomit there was visible on the floor, the more people were seen slumped around the Fairplex grounds.
The night was coming to an end as folks in the main hall were building pyramids, or “beeramids” as they were being called, out of their $24 plastic mugs. Mugs were pounded on the table in celebration and some were also flying from one end of the hall to another, not taking long before somebody was hit on the head with one.
There was one “beeramid” in particular that captured the attention of the entire main hall as it was standing around 10 feet tall, with no less than 30 mugs and it was not even at its peak yet.
The closer it did get to its peak, the louder the room got until the pyramid eventually reached higher than the person building it. At that point, the entire thing collapsed, marking the end of the first night of Oktoberfest.
With that, the band packed up and everybody stumbled their way out of the designated Oktoberfest area, trying to get the last few drops of beer as they reached the exit. This short walk to the exit was full of laughter, arguments and folks trying to find their Uber ride home – the proper way to end off a night like this.
Vincent Matthew Franco can be reached at email@example.com.