The 2019 Ames Oktoberfest featured music, a variety of beers and wines, the Iowa State vs. West Virginia football game and several yard games for entertainment.
Oktoberfests are held across the world to celebrate German culture — including its music, food and beverages.
The first 1,000 people who entered the venue for the eighth annual Ames Oktoberfest, held in the parking lot of Main Street Station, received a free beer mug.
Iowa Brewing Company’s “Bohemian Rapids” beer was skillfully poured by one of the individuals running the taps at Oktoberfest. The pilsner was slightly bitter, and had more of a hops-taste than expected, though it was certainly a drink to have a second of for hops-lovers.
Okoboji Wines’ Becker Petit Rose was perfect for rosé-lovers, chilled to a point where it was still noticeably cooler than the bitter-cold air. One glass was not enough for wine aficionados, as several people went back to get second glasses of the drink.
Alluvial Brewing Company’s “Towhead,” another pilsner, was also skillfully poured, a testament to the skill of those running the taps at the Ames Oktoberfest. The drink was not particularly hops-heavy and would be an easy brew for beer-lovers to relax with.
Ames resident and retired post office employee Jim Kilmer said the Towhead was “pretty good as far as Oktoberfest brews go.”
Jim Kilmer said he speaks “some German” and attended Iowa State. He was at the event with his wife, Dee Kilmer, who was a high school teacher at East Marshall High School. The couple moved to Ames in 2011.
Jim Kilmer said he plans to go with his wife to Munich for their Oktoberfest in September 2020. Jim Kilmer also said this was the second Oktoberfest they had been to this year, adding he is of partial German descent.
Dee Kilmer was drinking an Urban Mosel Riesling and she said it was “good.”
Dee Kilmer said the Ames Oktoberfest was a “warm-up” for their planned trip to Munich. They said they plan to meet a German exchange student Dee Kilmer has been in touch with since 1974.
“[The exchange student] and her husband are going to meet us in Munich,” Dee Kilmer said.
The Kilmers came to Oktoberfest not only for the German culture, but also for the variety of good beers.
“[Oktoberfests are] just a celebration of heritage [...] and the beer,” Jim Kilmer said.
Every conversation at the event took place with a background of polka music, a style of music originating in a region of the Czech Republic with a strong German influence. The band Polkarioty played “Happy Wanderer” and an interpretation of the “Chicken Dance.” They encouraged groups of people — many of whom were dressed in traditional German costumes — to dance to their tunes.
A call from the stage advertising free beer brought dozens from their seats toward where the keg of beer, the Bohemian Rapids, was being poured.
The beverage, however, was “half-beer, half-foam,” said a woman who had taken advantage of the no-cost refreshment. She and a crowd of at least a dozen others stood watching the Iowa State vs. West Virginia game in the southwest corner of the fenced-in area where the event took place.
A projector streamed the game for the faithful fans who watched in the rapidly decreasing temperatures. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, someone made the “executive decision” to move the projector back several feet, thus increasing the screen size of the game. They also worked with the speaker to increase the volume of the game. Their actions were followed by an Iowa State touchdown several minutes later, which was followed by cheers from the small audience.
David Martin, who represents the Third Ward on Ames City Council, said he was “pleased” to see an event like this take place.
It was Martin’s first time attending the Ames Oktoberfest. The city councilman minored in German at Iowa State and spent a year in Germany — he said he recommends travel abroad to anyone who can. Regarding the Oktoberfest event itself, Martin had just arrived but he said it was “so far so good.”
Accompanying the music, football game and the beverages were yard games.
Those who had signed up prior to the event partook in a tournament of bags, with several boards set up for teams to throw their bags and prove their mettle amidst the cold temperatures and hundreds of revelers.
In addition to bags was a setup of giant Jenga. The game was at the risk of tottering over not only from careless removal and replacement of pegs by participants, but also the ever-present chilling winds.
For those not content with giant Jenga or games of bags, an axe-throwing cage was set up in the northwest section of the parking lot. Pairs competed to see who could best the other in hitting the center of a target with their axe.
Most people attending the Ames Oktoberfest were presumably not expert axe-throwers, though. Roughly every third person was actually able to throw their axe in a way that it stuck to the target, and most were nowhere near the bullseye.
If the axe-throwing wasn't enough, though, nagelbalken — the German word for “nail beam,” was also available for Oktoberfest attendees to partake in. Those interested circled up around a stump and attempted to drive a nail into a log before others around the log could do so themselves, with some holding the hammer in one hand and a stein full of beer in the other.
As the sun went down over the venue, so did the temperature. A number of people were dressed for the cooler weather, though others — either on account of the chilling temperatures, or having been there for a number of hours — made their exit.
Those who were purchasing alcoholic beverages had bought drink tickets, and some people who left the event gave their tickets to those remaining rather than allow them to go to waste. One person who gave theirs away left just as Iowa State secured victory over West Virginia.
“Go State,” they said, before leaving the event.