Other strong arms pull “helles” (light) or “dunkel” (dark) or the occasional “hefeweizen” (wheat beer, my favorite),) from kegs the size of tanker trucks. There’s even alcohol-free beer, usually served without snickering. At huge rotisseries, cooks juggle hundreds of schweinshaxe, crispy skinned ham hocks served with potato dumplings and red cabbage, and a menu of wursts.
Counting calories or cholesterol at Oktobertfest is not allowed.
In the middle of it all, the band played on a raised platform, so when we were dancing on the tables, we were practically at eye-level, and they waved at us waving our beer mugs at them.
Every 15 minutes or so, the band stops the oompah music for a couple of rounds of “Prosit”, the drinking song that commands table top swaying and ceremonial clinking of glasses.
The dancing is much more refined and elegant at the world-famous Stuttgart Ballet, founded by legendary choreographer John Cranko, unless you count the ballet troupe founded in 1609 by the Duke of Wurttemburg.
The 452-room Wurttemburg Castle, modeled on Versailles, is one of the last Baroque palaces in Europe, a 30-minute trolley ride from downtown Stuttgart.
My tour guide would not let me sit in the 22-karat throne built for Frederick I. That’s just as well, since Frederick was 6’9” and I am just 5’2”, so it would have been quite a climb.
The palace also contains a 350-seat theater where the original pulleys and machinery for scenery panels and turntables still work.
My evening at the Canstatter Volksfest was the perfect ending to a visit that included homages to Stuttgart’s most famous products, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche cars.
Ferdinand Porsche designed race cars for Gottlieb Daimler until he went off on his own in 1930. The ultra-modern Porsche Museum, opened in 2009, showcases a collection of legendary racecars, even a Porsche-designed fire engine.
The museum is in the company’s factory complex in Zaffenhausen, a Stuttgart suburb also reachable by trolley from downtown – as is the sprawling Mercedes-Benz Museum.
The Mercedes museum, with tours in a dozen languages, traces the history of our great love affair with motor cars from the first four-stroke engine Daimler produced in Cannstatt in 1885, to hybrid cars and the promise of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Related article: Ten best Oktoberfest Celebrations Outside Germany (MSNBC)
IF YOU GO:
- Flights: Fly to Frankfurt. Stuttgart is two hours by car on the Autobahn, 90 minutes by high-speed train.
- Germany Information official website
- Stuttgart Information official website
- Stuttgart Oktoberfest official website
- Munich Oktoberfest official website
- Porsche Museum official website
- Mercedes-Benz Museum official website