Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oktoberfest and More!

The town of Mt. Angel Oregon is well-known for it's annual Oktoberfest celebration.  For one weekend in mid-September this tiny burg is overrun by legions of lederhosen-wearing, bratwurst-eating, beer-drinking, harvest-fest fans.


I never paid much attention to Oktoberfest until last year when Cody began attending Mt. Angel seminary.  Roger and I went to check it out, and I had so much fun, I invited my folks to visit and experience it for themselves.  This year, that's exactly what they did.

Roger and I ready to race

The Oktoberfest hosts many events.  One is a 5 and 10k road race.  I ran the 10k last year, and had a blast (even earned a 3rd place finish in my age group!)  Of course this year I signed up to run the race again.  Roger decided to run the 5k, while I signed up for the 10.  I had hopes of another third place age group finish, and maybe even a PR (you gotta aim high!).

We stuck together at the start

Saturday morning brought everyone to Humpert Park, race HQ.  It was a chilly morning and the sky was trying to spit raindrops.  Quite a difference from the upper 90 degree heat of the week before (but for a race I'll take the cool, rainy weather anytime).  Instead of pre-race rock and rap music, the PA system was belting out German polkas.  Which was great!  Got me in the Oktoberfest mood.  To compliment the race theme, a couple of men and woman runners were dressed up in German clothes.  And one guy was even dressed as a hot dog (or was it a bratwurst?)

Roger finishes his 5k

Roger and I agreed we'd each run our own races.  So when the pack began to move, I took off running at my own pace.  The course of the 5 and 10k were the same for the first mile.  I didn't realize it, but Roger was right behind me until the turnaround just beyond mile one.  After that, I tucked behind a couple of guys who were running a challenging pace, and tried to stay with them.

Me trying to finish strong

Since the Hood to Coast, I haven't been running much.  And during this race it really showed.  Trying to maintain a pace fast enough to break last year's time was tough.  I pushed myself extremely hard, and by mile five I was running on fumes.  I tried to kick it in for the last mile, but there was nothing left.  I crossed the finish line with a time that was 0.04 seconds faster than last year.  So technically I got a PR.  But this year's race was so much tougher I sure didn't feel like it.

Both my kids were there to watch the race

Cody walked down from the Abbey and met Denise, my parents, Roger and I at the finish.  He said that one of the nuns who teaches at the seminary was running the 10k. Apparently she competes in triathlons and is super-fit (aka the "iron nun").  This woman ended up finishing first in my age group (and first overall master's women) with a totally smokin' time.  Yes, I was beat by a nun!  But I did end up with a 5th place finish in my age group.

My kids with their grandparents

Roger didn't have as much luck in his race. With 0.7 of a mile left, his right calf muscle locked up, forcing him to stop and stretch it out. This put a monkey wrench in what would've been a decent time. He hobbled the final distance to the finish line.

How we felt after our races

After our races, Cody took everyone over to Mt. Angel seminary.  While Cody gave his grandparents a tour, I took a quick shower (huge thanks to the seminary staff for use of the women's locker room!).  When I finished and caught up to the family, my brother Dale had joined the group.  He'd driven down from Bend that morning. 

My family enjoying cookies at Mt. Angel Seminary (photo by Jesus)

The Abbey was geared up to receive Oktoberfest visitors.  We met one of Cody's seminary brothers, Jesus, (pronounced "Hay-soos") stationed at the cookie and coffee table.  We enjoyed refreshments courtesy of Jesus, and he was nice enough to offer to take a group photo.  So I was in the picture for a change! 

With our bodies energized, the family group (aka "Cody's entourage") continued the tour.  We happened to arrive at the Abbey church in time for the monk's noon prayer.  Cody suggested we sit in on the service.  He said the monks had beautiful voices and it was worth it just to hear them sing.  He was right.  Those monks voices blended as if they were one and it was most amazing.

The organ in the Abbey church

After noon prayer, we were able to walk around and admire the gorgeous Abbey church.  It had a huge pipe organ towering above the seats in the choir loft.  The church also had eight bells in a tower high above the roofline.  I learned that each bell has a name, a specific weight, and a designated musical note. 

Waiting for the noon bells to ring

The bells were due to chime at the noon hour, so we took a seat outside the church to watch the action.  It was cool to watch the bells swinging, high up in the tower.  And when they tolled, it sounded like angels singing.

Mt. Angel seminary campus tour

We toured Cody's dorm, the library and the dining hall.  By this time, it was well past lunchtime and everyone's tummies were growling.  It was time to head into town to find some bratwurst!

It's not Oktoberfest without bratwurst!

Oktoberfest draws huge crowds, and parking spaces can be difficult to find.  But, lucky for us, there was a shuttle bus that ran between the seminary and downtown Mt. Angel.  So we were able to leave our vehicles parked at the Abbey.  The shuttle dropped us all off in the heart of the action.

Cody enjoys brats with his grandparents

First order of business - find some brats!  The Mt. Angel sausage company had a huge kitchen set up and were frying sausages by the case.  They also had some epically long lines.  But my family was determined.  It's not Oktoberfest without bratwurst!

Cody enjoys some deep-fried oreos

After braving the lines and the wait, each family member was rewarded with a hot, delicious bratwurst.  We all scarfed down some great sausages, and inhaled loads of curly fries.  Then it was time for dessert.  The festival had a plethora of food booths, all selling every kind of food and dessert imaginable.  The kids snagged my last $20 bill and came back with an elephant ear and a basket of deep fried oreos.

Don't these look yummy?

Those deep fried oreos looked disgusting.  They were coated with breading on the outside and then tossed in a deep fat fryer.  Cody insisted they were really good, so we all had a taste.  Some people liked them, but I didn't care for 'em at all (and I usually love all things cookie). 

Hangin' out by der weingarten

Our tummies filled, my family wandered through the streets of Mt. Angel, taking in the sights.  I really wanted to get a beer, but it cost 9 bucks to get into the beer garden, and on top of that, you had to pay extra for your brewski.  I suppose that's the festival's way of confining the alcohol to certain areas, but it was too expensive for me.  So I went to Oktoberfest, but didn't drink any beer!  :(

This sign made me laugh!

But it was fun to walk around the streets.  Many of the buildings in Mt. Angel are decorated with a Barvarin theme.  Bands were playing in the town square.  People danced to polkas.  Men in lederhosen were a common site.  The crowds were thick everywhere I went.  It was people-watching at its finest.

We hit the streets of Mt. Angel

After an hour of wandering around fighting the crowds, everyone was ready to go.  Poor Roger's leg was feeling mighty sore after all that walking, and he needed a break.  So we caught the shuttle back to the Abbey and our car.  But our day wasn't over yet.  My Dad's cousin Al, who lived in nearby Salem, OR, had invited us all over for dinner.  So we headed to Salem for a delicious dinner and good conversation with Al and his grandson.

Modeling a chicken hat

Yep, it was a full day!  First a race, then an abbey tour, followed by a festival, and finally a nice dinner.  Whew!  But I was happy my folks were able to be here for Oktoberfest.  Not only my parents, but also both kids, Roger, and my brother too.  What a great excuse to get family together!

Now I've gotta brush up on that chicken dance for next year......



  1. your racing inspires me. I have never been a runner but the last few months I have been training to do my first 1/2 marathon. I have been trinig to walk it at a 15 or less mile and in 3 weeks will cross the nike womens marathon finihs line. since I had never done a race before I did a small 5k on top of a mountain through some trails and even for the first time ran part of it. I think I am addicted

    oh and by the way those deep fried oreos look yummy i need to try those

  2. Insider tip: Okay, you don't want to buy a wristband that gives you access to all three indoor festhalles, but you still want a beer. No problem; you can visit the new "Prost Garten" tucked away behind the historic Saalfeld house on E. College St. off Garfield St., a peaceful tent-covered table area in a garden setting where people can bring in yummy foods bought from the street vendors, buy beer or wine for cash (no OFest tokens here) from the bar, and enjoy the nonstop musical performances of the Rose City Accordion Club. This is a true oasis within the festival, and we hope everyone enjoys using it! I can't imagine it being too crowded for you there. But just in case, another option is to duck into The Glockenspiel Restaurant--you can certainly sit at their bar and enjoy their fine beer selection. Come back for next year's festival!
    --A local

  3. For all you Runners!
    Oktoberfest is partnering with Uberthons for the Oregon Marathon next year. Check it out at:
    Boston qualifying! #MAOfest2014


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.