Three Bookish Alternative Oktoberfest Celebrations

Posted by Thom Dunn

Oktoberfest is the annual German harvest festival, a citywide fair in Munich full of beer and bratwurst that takes place over sixteen days leading up to the first weekend of October. It’s awesome, or so my German friend tells me, and given my affinity for all things beer and meat and revelry, I tend to believe him (although I am mostly indifferent towards lederhosen).

I realize, however, that not everyone shares my love for such delicious gluttony. But rather than rudely asking what the hell is wrong with you and how could you not love malty lagers, tasty bratwurst, and lots of drunken singalongs, I’ve come up with a list of three alternative Oktoberfests for you to enjoy in those first days of autumn, all of which have been inspired by my other favorite thing that’s not booze, meat, or music — which, of course, is books.

October Skyfest: From the titularly anagrammatic Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr. This is a sixteen-day festival in which people work in coal mines all day and then build and shoot off model rockets all night, gradually shifting the ratio of work-to-rockets until the last day, when it’s all rockets all the time. Typically celebrated in West Virginia.

Hunt-For-Red-Octoberfest: In honor of the novel by Tom Clancy, Hunt-For-Red-Octoberfest is a time for us to reflect upon the memories and joys of our old Cold War fears. The celebration typically takes place on a state-of-the-art nuclear submarine traveling from Russia to the United States over sixteen days (please note: I know nothing about nautical speeds or how long this journey actually takes).

Many children like to engage in a popular game called Shifting Allegiances Or I’m Secretly Defecting To Another Country, which is lots of fun until all the kids start killing each other, but that’s okay.

October Countryfest: Inspired by the Ray Bradbury short story collection, October Countryfest is an incredibly diverse celebration, with every new day full of lots of new surprises of things that are surreptitiously trying to destroy us. It is common for families and friends to give each other well-intentioned gifts — often larger ones, such as property, or children, or carnivals, though sometimes things as small as a jar — that then try to kill them.

Each year, friends and family try to find new gifts to give that won’t turn their loved ones into bloody corpses, and the fun is in the creativity in attempting prevent that inevitable doom and gloom, along with the roller-coaster-like adrenaline rush of near-death experience (which is sometimes followed by actual death).

BONUS: Hunt-For-Alternative-Oktoberfests-Fest: Typically celebrated at the workspace at my house, Hunt-For-Alternative-Oktoberfests-Fest is a sixteen day hairpulling marathon where a writer tries to come up with a clever list of alternative Oktoberfests based on cheesy literary puns and gradually realizes that most books / stories having with October-ish names are more Halloween-oriented, rather than autumnal harvest-based, unless they are specifically referring to the traditional Oktoberfest, which is precisely what the writer is attempting to avoid.

Much like that same traditional Oktoberfest, Hunt-For-Alternative-Octoberfests-Fest also involves a copious amount of malty amber-colored beer, although the reasoning behind such consumption is notably different. Hunt-For-Alternative-Oktoberfests-Fest traditionally culminates on a deadline, at which point participants often come up with horribly meta paragraphs like this one to round out the listicle at an even 5 items so that it can finally be over.