Oktoberfest this year

I wasn’t planning to blog about last night, but we had a really great time at the First Annual Rauetoberfest.  The Raue Theater in downtown Crystal Lake offers a wide variety of entertainment for different occasions.  We normally attend the Make Your Messiah event in December.  You bring your songbook and can become part of the choir performing Handel’s Messiah from your seat.  If you love choir music, there is the ultimate.

Last week, I received an email from Raue about their first ever Oktoberfest event that would be held on September 26 and 27 in downtown Crystal Lake.  We have been looking for Oktoberfest events since the DANKE Society stopped holding theirs in South Elgin.  That was sad to see them close up their event.  However, there weren’t enough young members to carry it on.  We’ve gone to some other events, but they just weren’t the same atmosphere.

Then I noticed later in the week that a former colleague and his band were playing at the Rauetoberfest.  It would be an opportunity to see Mike and his band and see how this Oktoberfest was.  Being the first one, it meant there was a chance it was slow and not up to par with what we expected.  It did have the advantage of being really close to home though.

I let Rick decide if he wanted to go with us.  However, his attendance meant that I could have a beer as well.  I only have a couple of more months to abuse this privilege before he leaves for Michigan.  He finally relented and agreed to be the Designated Driver of the evening.

We arrived in downtown Crystal Lake about 5:00 PM.  Mike’s band, What About This, was starting at 5:30.  There would be time to scope out things.  I thought the event was behind the theater, but I was wrong.  I turned out to be just up the road from the downtown area.  There is an industrial site that is currently closed.  This was the real location.  Rich and I walked over while Rick went back to move the car over to the parking lot on site.

As we walked up, we could hear cowbells ringing.  Now what did that mean?  There was a German band on stage along with a tuba player and an accordion player.  This had definite prospects of being at least good German music.  There was a pretty good crowd hanging out under the blue and white tent.  Blue and white!  Bavarian colors!  There was another good sign.

As we were waiting for Rick to get into the grounds, we spotted Mike and his band moving their equipment out toward the stage.  We walked over to grab a few words.  We hadn’t talked to Mike in a few years.  He left the Big Mot to go into the mortgage business with another former Motorolan.  They had done very well.  It seemed like everyone at Motorola with a mortgage need went to Milestone Mortgage.

We talked for a few minutes and then let Mike get on with moving equipment to the stage.  We got tickets for food and beer.  The food was brats, hot dogs, pretzels, and other odds and ends.  Not much, but it is a good start.  The beer wagon was promising.  There was Hacker-Pshorr and Spaten.  Two pretty good German beers.  That should do the trick.  For a price, you could get the souvenir mug as well.

We got our food and drinks and move to the front of the tent so we could see the stage across the lot a bit.  It was a great view and we were right behind the sound booth.  This was where all the action was.  We watched What About This set up their equipment and run through sound checks.  They adjusted the lights with a mic stand to hit them on their spots.  You want to make sure you are seen well.

The band finished up and kicked right in.  They were billed as classic rock, but there seemed to be a lot of 80s and 90s music in there.  Mike had the Frampton set up for his guitar and of course, they had to play, “Do You Feel Like I Do” just so Mike could plan.  They did a pretty good job for guys who just get together to jam.  Mike says they only play a handful of event over the year.  They brought some of their fan base with them though.

Next up, the Musikmeisters returned to the stage.  Yep, there was a tuba up there.  No, correction on that.  We were informed this is a sousaphone and not a tube.  You have to use the German term for it.  The guy on the end was holding an accordion.  We were set for music.  They started off the set with “Ein Prosit.” This is the traditional beer drinking song.

Ein Prosit

Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
(Cheer!) Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa!
Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke,

hoi, hoi, hoi
Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke,

hoi, hoi, hoi

Prost!

We sang German songs and drank some beers.  At one point, the entire area for the event was full of people!  It was great!  There were little kids under 5 dancing to the music.  The German band was very entertaining.  After their first set, they traded out the percussion guy for a guitar guy.  From there, they were adding old Rock and Roll songs in here and there.  At one point, the tuba was playing old Rock and Roll!  I know, I know, sousaphone!

I drink slowly these days.  I just don’t have what it takes to keep up.  Rick and Rich were giving me a hard time about drinking one beer for a long period of time.  As Rick put it, “You’re going to have to step it up to enjoy Germany next year, or it’s going to be a total waste on you.  That’s not totally true.  I can still enjoy it without having to drink a lot of beer!

It was getting close to 9:00 and Rick was ready to move on.  We were working on finishing up our beers.  Someone stopped in front of our table.  I thought they were asking Rich a question.  When I looked up, it was David and Heather White!  David and Rich are cousins.  Their grandfathers are brothers.  We’ve known David and Heather for the last 20 something years.  It was a total surprise to see them.

They went off to get food and drinks and came back to join us.  David and Heather have 5 kids.  I had to ask where they were.  Apparently, it was a good excuse to leave them at home and come out by themselves.  We chatted off and on around the music and got caught up.

We ended up staying another hour to talk.  Then the beer and the chilly evening were getting to me.  Time to go home and setting down for the night.  We wished David and Heather good night and moved on to the lot.  Rick drove us home and we discussed the evening.

Here’s to hoping there is a Second Annual Rauetoberfest!

Joy and Rich in their German hats enjoying Oktoberfest.
Joy and Rich in their German hats enjoying Oktoberfest.
Heather and David White along with Joy and Rich at Oktoberfest
Heather and David White along with Joy and Rich at Oktoberfest