Friday, August 03, 2007
Schlapped at German Fest: Milwaukee German Fest 2007
By Andy Dost
I went to Milwaukee's ever-famous German Fest last weekend, so right now, I'm going to get this out of the way and make sure not to make any more of these along the way:
What did the Jew say to the gypsy?
"You can have the shower next."
I swear: no more or else.
Getting to Milwaukee is easy, and it's not a terribly difficult city to navigate. Parking a ways from the fairground with the intention of taking a free trolley, we got some nice glimpses of the library area and the arena where the Bucks play.
But that's where the niceties ended. Buses were frequent, but buses emblazoned with "GERMAN FEST" were not. We waited 15 minutes. And another 15. We walked to another alleged stop. We walked to the next. We walked back one.
Milwaukee, it would not be wise to cross this satirist.
Finally, a trolley came. Only it wasn't free as advertised. It was $1.50. I was getting CTA vibes, the nasty ones where I imagine myself derailing a train into all the guys in orange stopping my train for 20 minutes to fix the signals.
Needless to say, we told the driver to leave us to our Milwaukee misery. The next trolley followed it 15 minutes later. This guy was happy to put my dad on free, and he told us all the trolleys were free.
So, what is it, Milwaukee? $1.50 or free? Or do drivers make their own choices, kind of leaving them flexible in their swindling?
We finally walked the whole way (don't ask, I still don't know), which took us by plenty more buildings, including breweries and one that looked somewhat like half a sailboat (this was the art museum, unsurprisingly). The boat/art museum told us we were near the gates!
Getting in quick-like, we battled through a Rhinelanders/Oompah Band parade: the Dachshund Races awaited! Those were what everyone was waiting for, weren't they? The stadium for this was packed. It was difficult to see the racers over people's heads (even at my height), and it was made more difficult by the average height of a dachshund.
"If you are behind the finish line, please, for your safety, move to the left," said the announcer.
"For 'your safety'? What? From the dogs?" A burst of laughter came from the woman behind me and I knew I had an audience.
Wading through the stunted adorableness to a seat, my dad made note of one racer wearing a professional-looking harness. "There’s a ringer?!" I had this woman howling, really.
The first race, involving five dogs, ended with one crossing the finish line and the other not crossing the starting line. Later, the race officials learned having the dogs play "fetch" with a rubber ball was more effective than telling them to go.
Riding the Sky Rider/Alpine Ski-Lift/James Bond Simulator, my mom and I were caught in a delicious smelling smoke cloud. Below us were roasting chickens and suckling pigs! All whole! Snouts and all!
We immediately began our search after getting down. We didn't know where they were selling them, until my dad finally realized that the word Spanferkel was close by, which means something like "young pig."
Of course, you cannot get away from a German fest without beer, beer, beer:
MOM: (pointing to the Jagermeister tent on the map) "Well, there's beer here."
ME: "What? Jagermeister?"
MOM: "Yeah, says there's beer here on the map."
MOM: "Mom, that is NOT beer."
Perhaps my parents are a little foggy on their hard liquors since their college days. Everyone kills those brain cells before they graduate.
Though it did turn out that tent sold beer! Just not Jagermeister-brand beer thankfully.
The best part of festivals like this is they bring out the best ethnic joke T-shirts in the world ("I HEART MY WEINER" with dachshund silhouette accompaniment and several Hogan's Heroes tribute shirts). While one of my favorites happened to apply to me ("WARNING: Irish Temper, German Stubbornness"), the best I found was "Schlapped at Oktoberfest!" with a picture of a man dancing close to a Frauleine. Good topic, and I can happily say I did not see any showerhea--