Monday, October 15, 2018

Oktoberfest 2018: Walter Ostanek, Miesbacher Hats & Altes Muenchen Haus

Weekly Update 2018-42: Oktoberfest ist wunderbar! I visited Kitchener over the weekend for their annual Oktoberfest: Polka King Walter Ostanek, Miesbacher Hats and the beautiful Altes Muenchen Haus.

Music: Walter Ostanek
If there's one kind of music that is severely underrated, it's Polka. Never have I witnessed such consistently happy music as the genre of Polka, it just makes you want to dance. And on top of that, the style is quite forgiving, even perhaps demanding, of silly dance moves. While Polka music has its roots in 19th century Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic), Canada has its very own Polka King Ladislav John "Walter" Ostanek. I have seen him play once before at Beau's Oktoberfest in 2014, and I was delighted to see him again at the Altes Muenchen Haus in Kitchener on Saturday night.

I've never had so much fun doing the chicken dance in my whole life. Check out Ostanek's wide discography on Spotify.

While Kitchener is just over an hour's drive away from Toronto, my car-less lifestyle meant I would be taking the GO train on Friday night. I didn't realize that the train would be packed from having just passed through Union station at rush hour, but I managed to find a seat anyway (possibly the last one in the train car). Unfortunately I didn't get over to the Railpath this summer to bike along the trail, but I got to see some of the awesome graffiti on the train ride. I don't know why spray-painted tags on train lines are so beautiful and interesting to look at, but they just are.

Over a two-hour train ride (that slowly emptied until I was the last one in the train car), I managed to write a blog post, eat a full dinner, watch an episode of Ozark, and do one of my physiotherapy stretches. The other passenger in the car during my stretch seemed confused as to what exactly I was doing. It probably looked pretty weird.

And of course, Oktoberfest was the main goal of the weekend, which I think we accomplished pretty well! Kaylin did an amazing job of picking two equally cool events - one modern at a shiny new event space and one classic at an old skating rink with wooden rafters. It was an amazing weekend, and we even spotted Uncle Hans at the Friday event! In case you didn't know, he is a huge orange mascot man that we kept missing last year - he moves from event to event very quickly for a man of his age and size!

Hans onstage at Oktoberfest Haus, helping to tap the keg.

And on top of that, we also visited a squash farm! There were so many cool kinds of squash, a corn maze, a bunch of animals to pet and fawn over, and even tractor rides. Here's Kaylin looking extremely cute.

Kaylin looking cute with her various squashes.

So many kinds!

This week I want to make an enchilada casserole from a recipe I found a couple of months ago. I always feel like Fall is the perfect time to eat casseroles.

I'm also hoping to check out another project by Art Spin (creators of the Toronto Island Bike Art Crawl this summer). This one, called Holding Patterns, takes place in a bunch of storage lockers at Dundas and Dupont, all sorts of weird and wonderful mini-exhibitions. I can't wait to check it out.

Random Thought: Miesbacher Hats
A wonderful tradition of Oktoberfest is the alpine or Miesbacher hat. This is a traditional German hat worn for the holiday, usually adorned with a feather (the bigger, the better) and a pin collection that displays the wearer's past Oktoberfests, hobbies, favourite breweries, etc. It was really awesome to check out other people's hats and see their collection of pins - especially so since many of them are my beloved enamel pins.

I was able to find some awesome pins, both at the Altes Muenchen Haus and at a cool thrift store in Kitchener called Talize. Yes, if you can't make it, why not fake it? Check out the cool vintage pins from Oktoberfests that happened before I was born (now at home on my friend Kaylin's hat):

I love that the town lives and breathes Oktoberfest, even outside of festival time. There's so much wonderful German heritage to be found in the town, and it's been there so long that you can find pieces of it in thrift stores. The newer pins are certainly lovely, but the vintage ones are charming on a whole different level.

Inspiration: Altes Muenchen Haus
I was so lucky to be able to attend two Oktoberfest events this year. Friday night at the Oktoberfest Haus boasted a shiny new event venue made out of an old warehouse, complete with a visit from Uncle Hans himself and a traditional keg-tapping demonstration in front of a huge, drunken crowd.

It was definitely fun but Saturday night at the Altes Muenchen Haus was the shiny star of the show. It really reminded me of rural Ontario agricultural fairs on de-iced hockey rinks. Which is exactly what Altes Muenchen Haus was - in an old hockey arena. I loved the vibe of the whole thing - from the colour-coded sports lines painted on the floor to the old banners for the different states of Germany...or whatever they were.

I especially loved this banner of Uncle Hans and his wife Frieda from the earlier days of Kitchener Oktoberfest. It's so kitschy and wonderful.

In addition to Walter Ostanek gracing us with his whimsical Polka all night, I managed to scarf down a huge plate of schnitzel and cabbage rolls. It was a lovely evening.

Schnitzel always tastes better at Oktoberfest.

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