The sudden influx of lederhosen-toting men and dirndl-clad women heralds the advent of the annual St Andrews Charity Oktoberfest. Held in Kinkell Byre, the event allows guests to truly invest themselves in the theme. Indeed, it is difficult to enter Kinkell, in all its Bavarian glory, and not feel swept away by the beer steins, the food vendors, and the rip-roaring German band Stoabach Buam. And with 4,800 litres of beer imported specially for the event, there was enough to tide over various biblical floods.
Although there were some questionable dirndls (always a contentious affair), the majority of guests improved upon the authenticity of the day. This is unsurprising, considering the ratio: seven hundred international guests dwarfed the five hundred local students. Diversity was the keyword: They came from all corners of Europe – the clucking of Spaniards, Germans, Frenchmen, and Italians could be identified in unusual intensity over the weekend. A number of young European royals blended in, rubbing shoulders with St Andreans on the dance floor in the warm glow of beer and music. There were even a number of guests that had flown over from the United States, a considerable pilgrimage.
When asked why the event consistently attracts such a strong foreign contingent, Co-Director Laurence Cardwell emphasised its winning recipe: a completely nutty Oktoberfest held in March, plop in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. He then noted the weekend of activities organised for many international guests, based around the central Saturday afternoon at Kinkell. “Secret Fridaze” jump-started the weekend at the VIC for Das Komitee and its international friends. Here, Laurence’s own deadly concoction, the Stroh Bomb, where a ghastly 80% Austrian rum replaced Jägermeister, was served on entry, and his antidote, a hangover relief drink called Survivor, was served on exit. Survivor continued to aid guests at the Sunday “Katerfrühstück” – which literally translates into “Hangover Brunch.”
The tremendous trio provided out-of-towners with three days of boozy, St Andrean fun. “Many must have been somewhat amused to see that the organiser was absolutely and consistently plastered throughout the weekend,” mused Laurence. “I suppose one could say I led by example! Though in truth it was my fellow head Julian Zschocke who did the heavy lifting while I twirled around in lederhosen.”
The close-knit nature of the Oktoberfest committee further contributes to the high rate of alumni guests: the previous three years’ worth of committee heads were present last Saturday, a testament to the long-lasting passion of the organisers.
Naturally, the event is held in support of a local charity – Tayside Children with Cancer and Leukaemia. Thanks to Oktoberfest, the TCCL lodge has been completely refurbished, and proceeds from the 2016 event covered the lodge’s maintenance costs for an entire year. Bearing this in mind, the event’s positive impact cannot be denied. This year, Das Komitee made an unprecedented move to ban the notorious profiteering on ticket sales, which has seen some tickets being sold for up to £300 in previous years. “This is both unfair and wasteful – none of that money goes to charity, and simply lines the pockets of opportunists,” stated Laurence. This year, any evidence of tickets being sold above their face value (say a screenshot) without it going to the charity meant that the original ticket would be annulled.
“Draconian, but simple,” according to Laurence. In the end, some doubtlessly got away with it, but it has become harder to profit from it, and a number of tickets allegedly were annulled.
Cost aside, one would be hard-pressed to find a dissatisfied guest at Kinkell Byre. Despite a brief bout of rain, La Bamba remained fully operational, and guests were able to alternate between the inside beer hall and outside dining-slash-smoking area (shoutout to On The Roll for some excellent bratwursts). Within the hall, dirndls and lederhosen mingled amongst apple strudels and some delectable Sachertorte. By night, the evolution from Scottish barn to Bavarian bar was complete, and bedraggled attendees underwent a minor culture shock upon returning to Market Street – with many continuing the rave at one particularly riotous afterparty.
As always, hats off to Das Komitee for another un-beer-lievable year.