Octoberfest in Washington’s faux-Bavarian mountain village of Leavenworth was not at all what I expected. Sure, there was slap-dancing, a horse-drawn wagon full of imported German dignitaries, oompah music and yodeling aplenty. And beer. Lots and lots and lots of beer.
But I never anticipated the intensity of the revelry. Under the governing principle that an Octoberfest-goer does not live by dirndles and lederhosen alone, attendees dressed as Imperial Storm Troopers from “Star Wars,” half-naked Vikings, and the 1972 US Olympic track team. There were Rastafarians with both real and artificial dreadlocks. A group of imposingly buxom women on a balcony tossed pieces of saltwater taffy into the crowds waiting to enter the main festival tent. Every shop and restaurant was jammed with customers spilling into the streets. By far the longest line was outside the costume store, where a bouncer kept those desperate for a foot-tall beer stein hat at bay with a chain across the entrance.
Thankfully there were quieter moments as well. In the gazebo in the town center a traditional Alpine band drew a crowd of footsore partygoers. One tiny girl in particular was entranced by the accordionist.