As millions of lederhosen-wearing, dirndl-totting beer lovers descended upon the great German state of Bavaria last month for the annual festival of boozing, sausage eating and drunk carnival rides, Wendel’s German Bakery & Bistro in Taipei has been busy planning their own version of Oktoberfest. Arguably one of the best German eateries in town, Wendel’s has been hosting Oktoberfest at their flagship store in Tianmu (天母) for the past 11 years. Although roller coasters and carousels will be absent, there will be beer tents, as well as a sausage eating contest which takes place tomorrow afternoon.
“We wanted the event to not only be for beer lovers, but also a family-friendly affair” says Wendel’s Hung Wei-ting (洪薇婷).
There will be no shortage of lagers at the biergarten, but much of the celebration will center on the food and the overall festive vibe. In addition to sausages and pork knuckle, the chefs will be serving southern German delicacies such as steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), and schaeufele (brined, tender pork shoulder).
Photo courtesy of Wendel’s
The chowing down will be accompanied by live music from the Bavarian Show Express band, while tomorrow’s sausage eating contest will feature 500cm snail sausages, with the winner claiming a NT$3,000 grand prize. Festival-goers will also be able to purchase beer and pretzels imported from Germany, and take home their own collector’s beer mugs which Wendel’s produces themselves every year.
Hung tells the Taipei Times that it’s difficult to recreate an Oktoberfest vibe in Taiwan. Over the years, they’ve tried everything from hiring German waiters and waitresses to importing decorations from Germany. It seems like their efforts have paid off though. The yearly celebration has seen a steady increase in participants, from over a thousand in 2004 to around 12,000 participants today — and there’s been more people getting into the festive mood and dressing up.
“It’s not easy to buy a dirndl or lederhosen,” Hung says. “But lots of customers tell us that they’ve always dreamed of wearing one, and some even ask if they can rent one from us.”
The band also plays a huge part in recreating the atmosphere by playing traditional songs one would normally hear in beer tents in Munich, down to the band leader demonstrating dance steps to festival-goers and encouraging them to join in.
“Even if there are some customers who are too shy to dance at the beginning, after a mug of beer, they are moving to the beat — some even stand up on the benches and dance,” Hung adds.
Oktoberfest lasts until Oct. 18, so whether you’re a devoted boozer or the type who needs a few swigs before you can break the moves, be sure to don your snazziest suspenders and petticoats first if you plan on feasting at Wendel’s.
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