AUTHOR: linda TITLE: Oktoberfest! DATE: 2:01:00 PM ----- BODY:
"Welcome to San Francisco's Oktoberfest.

Where we serve the wholesome... the filling... the good-for-you... BEER.

So, drink up! And eat up! And without delay... let's start the festival!!"

So said the German Consulate's Minister of Culture (Gav was unavailable) as he bent down over a little wooden keg, propped on a small table and decorated with a paper Spaten tablecloth, with the grand feather-capped and lederhosen-adorned oompah-pah band watching from the stage behind, and a hushed crowd of festival-goers gathered semi-circle on the dancefloor in front, and on top of benches beyond. And after several difficult whacks with the flimsy faux-wooden hammer, bubbles and beer leaked, dripped, and then finally gushed forth... all over his nice dress suit and shoes... to whoops and hollers of the excited crowd.

And so began my third annual Gemuetlichkeit Night, the grand opening of the four-day festival "celebrating in the true Munich tradition." Biggest one around, drawing about 20,000 partiers and a quarter million dollars. Despite it's price of admission ($25, which includes a glass, a beer and a bratwurst), the orange-haired "Jager girls" (no comment), the wide-eyed Marina boys, and rows of stuff to buy (sunglasses, glasses, t-shirts, wool socks), American Showplace Productions does a pretty good job of turning the former airplane hanger at Fort Mason into the warm, bustling atmosphere of a beer hall.

Cheerful Bavarian music, brave costumed dancers, German-themed food, groups of gals, groups of guys, strollers and smiles and leers, and Spaten beer flowing as much as your waistline and pocketbook can handle -- my favorite holiday!

Ja wohl!