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Liz Marsh
Liz Marsh

Next generation builds new party traditions

As I stood in line to have my ID checked for legal drinking status, I glanced down at the beer stein in my hand — “Vail Oktoberfest, 2012.” It wasn’t even my first stein. It was just the one easiest to grab on my way up the mountain. My friends and I have been going to various Colorado mountain towns for Oktoberfest for the better part of a decade.

Each year, our condos become themed “Hauses.”

There is the dinner-party Haus, where we dine on enchiladas, otherwise known by their (not) traditional name, “Hähnchen im Schlafrock” (chicken in pyjamas). And the craft Haus, where we glue feathers and birds to hats and make elaborate pretzel necklaces.

In the past, our weekends have included midnight swims in the hotel pool, jam sessions, game nights, dance parties and, on one memorable trip, a drag show.

Every year, we win the contests: stein-holding, keg bowling and costume.

Every year is a sure-fire mix of too much booze, too much food and very little sleep.

But this year was one big uncertainty. Our group has recently added four babies (with more on the way) and a beagle. Would we be able to party as we had in the past? Would the babies have proper German attire? Would they want to nap through the keg-bowling contest, or would they be howling at the top of their lungs, forcing their parents to bow out of the festivities? And what of Barkley the beagle?

As we ascended into Summit County last weekend, no one was sure what the days ahead would hold, but all were determined.

We had planned to meet up Friday night for some porch wine, a marked relaxation of Oktoberfest traditions, but everyone was too tired. In our Haus, we ate frozen pizza and watched TV. It was gloriously boring.

Saturday was game time, and it was, as the Germans might say, a clusterfuck. Babies needed naps, cars needed to be relocated before drinking commenced, it poured rain, and there were some tears from babies and adults alike. But by noon, we had all squeezed our (slightly fatter) asses into our lederhosen and dirndls, packed up the kiddos and filled our steins with beer.

And it was perfect.

Some major adjustments were made to our traditions, but in the end, there was beer, music and friends. And as we danced to the Polkanauts band with the next generation of our group, new traditions were made.

A few things stayed the same. At some point in the day, some of our friends snuck away from the group long enough to become the stein-holding champions, a feat I imagine was made slightly easier by a year of holding babies.

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