Don’t get us wrong, you are welcome to show up at the Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County (ROCC) with no prior knowledge or experience. But if you want to know more about the Oktoberfest culture and feel more involved in the festival, take a look at these traditions no Oktoberfest goes without. We hope this information helps you get ready for the big event and shows you what to expect, so that you don’t feel lost or confused.
Lederhosen and Dirndl
It doesn’t matter if you have German heritage or simply want to embrace the festivities—everyone is encouraged to wear traditional Bavarian attire during Oktoberfest. For ladies, this involves a dirndl dress, which consists of a bodice, a blouse and a full skirt often adorned with an apron. For men, it’s lederhosen, suspenders, a shirt and a traditional German hiking hat that resembles a fedora. Lederhosen are leather shorts that end just below the knee. However, if you don’t care about being 100% authentic, fabric lederhosen will do just fine!
In Germany, lederhosen and dirndl are nothing out of the ordinary and are expected of Oktoberfest participants. In the U.S., however, these traditional Bavarian outfits are less common. Our Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County encourages visitors to dress up by offering free admission to those in full Oktoberfest attire.
Beer and Steins
At the original German Oktoberfest you won’t find just any beer—the beer supplied for this festival comes from the 6 major Munich breweries. In the U.S., we don’t have one main Oktoberfest celebration, so all local festivals choose their own beer suppliers among local breweries. Thankfully, we don’t have a lack of flavorful beer in Maryland. In the past, we’ve worked with Pub Dog Brewing who specially brewed for us the Carroll Rotary Oktoberfest beer.
During Oktoberfest, the beer is traditionally served in 1-liter steins (33.8 ounces). A stein is essentially a tall glass beer mug often equipped with a lid. It is believed that a lid was added during the time of the Black Plague to keep one’s beer fresh and clean. Of course, both German and U.S. steins come in many other sizes, including 8.5oz, 16.9oz and 25.4oz. It’s customary to say Prost! (Cheers!) when raising your steins and clinking them together.
The Chicken Dance
The Chicken Dance is a fun and interactive song set to a catchy, upbeat tune. Composed in Switzerland in 1950s, this song became a staple at all Oktoberfests throughout the world 30 years later. The dance itself involves imitation of the bird’s beak, wings and tail through a variety of bodily motions. It’s a fun and entertaining activity for participants of all ages. At the Rotary Oktoberfest of Carroll County, we even have a Chicken Dance competition to single out and reward the most enthusiastic dancers.
Music and Yodeling
The sounds of Oktoberfest are the sounds of Oompah, Polka and yodeling, and laughter of course. Both Polka and Oompah are variations of cheerful, energetic tunes based either on accordion or brass instruments. They can be played quietly in the background or sung loudly if you know the words. “Beer Barrel Polka” is one of the tunes popular in the U.S. that you may be familiar with. And if you don’t know the words, you can always yodle, which involves frequently changing the vocal registry from normal to super high.
An interesting fact: did you know that Polka is the official dance of Wisconsin? Yes it is!
Where there’s beer, there has to be food. And you will find plenty of traditional German delicacies at Oktoberfest. From soft, salty pretzels to sauerkraut and bratwurst, there are plenty of food options that go good with beer, as well as taste wonderful on their own. Each Oktoberfest festival strives for authenticity, and food is a big part of it. That’s why at ROCC we take great care when choosing food vendors to make sure even our German guests can recognize the taste of home.