Oktoberfest 2018

Last year’s Oktoberfest went well, but attendance was down slightly from the previous year due to putting it the same weekend as Fall Break.  We also consistently hear from some of the usual folks we invite that October is pretty busy because of other school-related activities.  Therefore, for this year’s Oktoberfest, we pushed into September.

Of course, once you start looking at the calendar, there aren’t all that many options for later in the month because a certain someone has a birthday on September 23rd (incidentally, Calvin’s grandmother has a birthday on September 22nd, so he isn’t the only one with a birthday around then!).  Soooooo, the decision was made to try and combine the two: he was turning five and had more friends to invite this year, so we could just invite everyone and try and satisfy both needs.

We spent the usual amount of time preparing for the even the week before.  Thankfully, the weather was solid enough that we could get mowing done and pick up some straw bales for seating.  There was a threat of rain later in the week, but a front came through on September 21st, cooling off the temperatures into the low- to mid-70s for September 22nd.  Near perfect weather, really!

Mimi and Poppy, and Nana and Papa, all came in early to help with some set-up, though Brooke and I had most of it done already.  Still, it was good to visit a bit during “the calm before the storm.”  Calvin and I even went to the MVC Rodeo the night before, so we weren’t so behind with set-up that it was necessary for me to work through Friday night getting ready (the rodeo was fun, by the way).  Before everyone arrived, Calvin opened some presents from his grandparents – we saved the rest of them for the next day.

As part of Oktoberfest, knowing that we’d have more kids than usual present, Brooke looked into getting special activities to entertain them.  We tried finding mini pumpkins, but it was just a bit too early for them to be available at our local stores, so Brooke found some plastic ones to be painted at Dollar Tree.  

We also set up some yard games, including a “throw the ring around the beer bottles” game and horseshoes.  Honestly, I was down with the grill the whole time, so I didn’t see how the “kid games” went over, but it seemed like they were relatively entertained!  Some kids got out chalk for the driveway, others used the swings, and others played cornhole.  No one felt the need to go inside and turn on the TV, so I suppose this was a “win!”

The rest of the party went off without a hitch.  We set up the screen-in tent down where the yucca plants used to be and put some straw underneath (it fit the theme of the party while also covering up the distinct lack of grass from that particular spot).  We ran an extension cord out there for the Crock Pots and turned on our blue Christmas lights for later.  We ended up with plenty of seating for the 38 visitors we had (about 10 more than last year!) and moved chairs around when necessary.  It was warm enough that I didn’t light up the fire until early-evening, but once it was going, it was a welcome addition.

A brief side-note: the Nuremberg sausages we like to get from Aldi didn’t come in until that very week here in Marshall.  I ended up grabbing 15 packs of them from the Aldi in Columbia when I made my run for Oktoberfest beers, just in case, but the Marshall store got theirs in just in time.  Still, if we do it around the same time next year, we may have to drive a bit to stock up!

As usual, most people were leaving by 7:00, which was when the rodeo started that night.  A few couples stayed later than that, one of which hung out until around 9:00.  Calvin sat inside in front of the TV; the adults chatted by the fire; and Meg laid down in the straw under the blue lights.

It was a great day!  Let’s hope the weather is similar next year!

Inaugural Oktoberfest

A beautiful day for a party!
A beautiful day for a party!

Over years in St. Louis, Brooke and I found that we enjoyed “hosting,” whether that was for church small groups, family gatherings, or for parties.  Up in Iowa, we had our first Oktoberfest party largely because we lived in the middle of nowhere and we rarely had visitors, so we organized a gathering of mostly work friends for a cold and rainy evening.

Flash forward to 2015, now with two kids and still with a house that doesn’t get visitors (aside from family) all that often.  At this house, though, we’re a bit closer to other people (including family) and we also know more people from work and the neighborhood.  In an attempt at celebrating our German heritage and the end of our garden’s growing season, we organized another Oktoberfest, hopefully the first of many.

The weather ended up being perfect.  Seriously, it couldn’t have been any better.  There was a chill in the air, the temperature never broke past the low 70s, and the fire was actually useful instead of just decorative.  We started the party at 3:00 pm to make life easier for the folks with kids, as we didn’t know how late this thing would go and we didn’t want people to come for dinner and then leave an hour later because it was bedtime.

We had a little over 30 people over during that period of time.  Quite a few kids were there, and most of the folks were from Missouri Valley.  We had a few neighbors come over, as well as one of Meg’s friends from her old school, so she had a pretty great time.  Brooke made potato soup, pretzels and sausages (we ran out of the latter, despite Brooke wondering if we bought too many!), and other folks brought desserts, dips, beer and more.  Speaking of beer, I made a German Alt and a Bavarian Hefeweizen.  A few over 20 bottles were had, as well as some of the other domestic offerings we provided.  All in all, we had a lot to recycle after the party was done!

Ultimately, I think people had a good time.  It didn’t go as far into the evening as I’d hoped, but we had people there for over 4 hours, so considering when the event started, that was probably long enough.  As kids get older and as we meet more people around here, I bet that’ll change a bit.  Still, I think the party was a success and we look forward to doing it again next year!

It’ll be hard to beat the weather from 2015, though…