They say we tend to set the trends here in Southern California. Or, at the very least, we prefer to be out the door first or ahead of the game or out in front of the crowd. One or all of the above. Your choice.
Certainly we like our Oktoberfests to get going on the early side. The most famous Oktoberfest in the world doesn't get commence for another week or so, and yet the Huntington Beach party has already begun, and Torrance's annual to-do is set to get schnitzeling. And next week? Anaheim's big, beer-laden bash kicks off.
Let's pause to raise a stein to Alpine Village in Torrance this week. That charming center of '60s-era Tyroleana launches its annual Oktoberfest on Friday, Sept. 9. Closing date is Sunday, Oct. 23. And in-between? A whole lot of chicken-dancery. Lots of stein-holding contests. And the consuming of frosty, traditional, grown-up beverages from impressively large mugs. (And the finding of friends who will be on designated driver duty, of course.)
Yes, the mustards and the pumpernickels and the high-spirited cheer get us year after year. But the stein-holding competition always sticks in our mind the most. Who can hold a heavy mug, straight-armed, for several minutes? It looks incredibly hard, regardless of how much pumping one does in preparation. And whoa, is that contest ever a crowd-pleaser. The audience is always rapt, and the disappointed "awwws" when someone lowers his or her stein are fraught with feeling.
A few things of note. Alpine Village celebrates Oktoberfest on Friday nights, Saturday, and Sundays. Heino, that smooth, turtleneck-sporting master of ceremonies from last year, will return. Heino! Yes. And it is year 44 for the Torrance celebration. Commendable.