What would a city be without opposites? Right, a dull thing. Opposites attract, they say. But of course that’s not true. In Munich, for example, what could be less reconciled than Bavaria and sixty, as tenants and landlords, as cyclists and SUV drivers? Well, apart from the two football clubs, you also take on changing roles as a person, for example cycling and car. One of the irreconcilable opposites, however, is the antagonism between Oktoberfest fans and Oktoberfest haters. Last year, when the Oktoberfest was canceled for the first time after the Second World War, that was easy to see. The jubilation of the Oktoberfest opponents in the social networks could hardly be tamed.
And this year? Who is happy that the Oktoberfest is canceled again? Except maybe a few residents who have the Theresienwiese to themselves again this summer and are not standing in front of the protective fences?
No, little is heard from the Oktoberfest haters these days. One almost has the impression that even they lack their old enemy image. And on the Theresienwiese, where the skaters and beach volleyball players, boulderers and body lifters have spread out, you can even do gymnastics to brass music with hearty Oktoberfest marches from the loudspeaker. So to watch on Thursday evening.
The closer it gets to September 18th – the day on which the Oktoberfest would have started this year – the stronger the longing seems to be for the missed festival. You can tell from the diverse activities that are currently springing up and somehow have the Wiesn or Oktoberfest in their name. The proximity to the real event is completely irrelevant; you can tell from the excitement surrounding the so-called desert Oktoberfest in Dubai, which is becoming increasingly unlikely to take place. The long-time landlord spokesman Toni Roiderer from Hackerzelt has already said everything necessary when he stated succinctly: “I am an Oktoberfest host and not a desert host.”
The closest thing to all of the Oktoberfest surrogates comes, surprisingly, someone who always wanted to be a Oktoberfest host, but will now very likely not become one again: Alfons Schuhbeck. He actually appears in the dinner tent teatro, outside in the Messestadt Riem, eleven times with his show “Schuhbecks Carousel” (the tent is economically independent of the celebrity chef and therefore not affected by the bankruptcy of his businesses). On Friday, September 17th, Schuhbeck personally taps the first barrel, then there’s an Oktoberfest show with the band Cagey strings from the hacker’s tent, beer and snack along with “sweet delicacies from Alfons Schuhbeck” on wooden benches, almost like at the Oktoberfest. One should appear in dirndl and lederhosen, it is said, besides party music there are various acrobatic show attractions, and as you know Schuhbeck, he will probably use the microphone and electric guitar. The whole thing is available on the weekends until October 3rd. Wiesn feelings are also awakened with the price. The seat at the six-table costs 99.90 euros or more per person.
The so-called Wirtshaus-Wiesn is certainly cheaper, but it also has no acrobatics to offer – apart from waitresses who skillfully juggle their trays. As in the previous year, 35 downtown innkeepers and the Wiesn innkeepers with their around 20 restaurants have teamed up to deliver replacements for the actual Oktoberfest time between September 18 and October 3: typical Wiesn dishes, festival tent decorations, gingerbread hearts and Bavarian tavern music.
One may doubt with a clear conscience whether the essence of the Oktoberfest can be fully captured in it. After all, a folk festival still includes showmen, fairground rides and stalls – some of them had already been experienced at “Summer in the City”, also a slightly strange surrogate. But only until August 22nd, because then space was created for the construction of the somehow foolish IAA car goggles.
Because it is difficult to set up roller coasters and chain carousels in your home or in your own garden at the Munich property prices, the Oktoberfest spare parts are usually limited to the culinary or things that are related to it. Wiesn boss and economics officer Clemens Baumgärtner (CSU) is now already in the second year with stoic equanimity praising the city’s official Oktoberfest mug for a festival that will not even take place. Just as he had previously announced the second, basically completely superfluous Oktoberfest poster. What should he do too? The Munich breweries also brewed a festival beer again after it had long been clear that there would be no festival. Even the Giesinger brewery has now brought out an Oktoberfest beer with the “Schürzenjäger”: a subtle indication that you also want a tent soon?
You may see all of this as part of a big illusion machine that leads us to believe that there is such a thing as an Oktoberfest this year. But at least: Feinkost Käfer relies on brutal realism and calls its replacement program ice cold “Koa Wiesn 2.0”. The gingerbread heart with this label is available in the online shop for 5.95 euros (plus shipping costs). There you can buy everything from coffee mugs to all conceivable specialties for the snack board that could have anything to do with the Oktoberfest.
However, an all-round carefree package is also on the market. It comes from TV chef Alexander Herrmann from Wirsberg in Franconia. He has now launched an “Oktoberfest-Box”, which is intended for four to six people and by no means only contains “an authentic Bavarian snack board”, but also crispy shanks of suckling pig, braised ox cheeks and roasted Oktoberfest chicken as well as strudelschmarrn with apple and Vanilla sauce. A Oktoberfest chicken from the cooking box? That is a challenge. Everything together costs 179 euros, all that is missing is various mass beers.
You will probably miss the “Oktoberfest menu” in the Izakaya restaurant, because there, in the luxury hotel Roomers on Landsberger Strasse, the Augustiner beer is only available in 0.33-liter bottles. The restaurant with its Japanese fusion cuisine has otherwise at least implemented the motto with bizarre humor. There is a kind of snack platter with Wammerl, in this case grilled pork belly with ginger-tozasu salsa, the chicken as an Asian spring chicken with truffle-teriyaki sauce and the farmer’s duck in the form of a “crispy duck roll with daikon radish and hoisin sauce”. As a tribute to the Italian weekend, the dessert consists of a cappuccino crème brûlée.
So far it may all be understandable. Perhaps the “Oktoberfest Memory” from Starnberger Spiele Verlag, which should appear at the end of next week, is also needed. Or the “Wiesn-Playmate 2021” from the well-known interview magazine playboy will be presented on Wednesday next week. It may also be acceptable that the Bavarian Arts and Crafts Association in Pacellistraße is promoting its new jewelry and textile exhibition “Inspiration from Tradition” with the Oktoberfest. It seems a little trying, however, when the association for the promotion of urban art names its latest Untergiesinger graffiti action in a week “O’gmoit is”. The bird, as they say in the Armbrustschützenzelt, is shot down by another club, namely the “German Mittelstand eV”. Under the motto “O’gsogt is”, he is organizing a “digiWiesn Bavaria with 30 top speakers from business, politics and the media” for 16 days. You can meet there for “professional discussions in virtual Oktoberfest boxes”, for example with the patron Dorothee Bär.
Many Oktoberfest enthusiasts may then ask themselves whether they shouldn’t become a Oktoberfest hater after all.