Norman Hopson lent some credibility to the fourth Glenville Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday at the Schenectady County Airport.
The Alplaus resident, who has made multiple trips to Germany, wore a green German alpine hat he bought on a vacation more than 20 years ago. “It’s reasonably authentic because I bought it in Germany,” he said while taking the hat off and fiddling with the tuft of hair on the back, which he guessed was from a mountain goat.
The rest of the hat was decorated with “doodads” that Hopson had collected from various cities in Germany. Collecting the ornamental pins became a bit of a hobby and allowed him to pretend he was German.
During his travels he grew accustomed the cuisine, especially different variations of pork, and on Saturday he was looking forward to schnitzel, which is traditionally made with thin, boneless pieces of veal that are fried. The food at Saturday’s festival included other Oktoberfest staples, such as bratwurst, knockwurst, frankfurters, sauerkraut and potato salad.
“I was fortunate enough to go to the Munich Oktoberfest,” Hopson said of the renowned celebration that spawned copycats all over the world.
“Of course, that was a lot bigger than this, but this compares very well, with the music and atmosphere,” he said. “Everybody is having fun, which is the main thing.”
A main deviation from the traditional Oktoberfest celebration were the attractions for children, which include bounce houses, laser tag, a cardboard castle with a maze inside and a rock-climbing wall. There were also craft vendors, a car show and scenic plane rides taking off from a nearby runway.
Inside the festival’s “Biergarten” tent was the authentic flavor, where lederhosen were proudly worn and music was played by a German quintet that included an accordion. Rows of cafeteria-style tables filled the tent, with people eating off Styrofoam plates and drinking beer or wine out of plastic cups.
Music, which seemed like it would be perfect for a march, attracted a steady stream of toddlers to the dance floor under the tent. And while some adults, usually the ones dressed like members of the Von Trapp family, dared to dance, most were content to stay away from the dance floor and just stomp their feet, hit the table or swing a beer in the air in time with the music.
Eventually the dance floor was cleared so it could be the site of a feat of strength known as a Masskrugstemmen. Traditionally, the challenge has competitors hold a full beer stein at arm’s length — straight arm and no spilling — and the winner is the one who holds the position the longest. At Saturday’s event, the steins held water, not beer.
This was the second year competing for Trevor Parkis, of Glenville, who was the first of six men to compete. He wasn’t the first on out, but his arm couldn’t hold up the stein longer than two burly competitors.
“It really didn’t hurt, [my arm] just started shaking for some reason,” Parkis said of the competition. “The shaking caught me by surprise.”
And while it wasn’t his day, he had complete confidence that his friend, Kristen Dragotta of Burnt Hills, would kick butt in the female competition. A few minutes later she proved him right, as she was the last woman standing with her stein still in the air.