Things are still lovely here in Salem. We’ve had a little more rain this week than in the past, but it’s been nothing compared to Nashville from what we hear. I think we’ll get our fair share before too long, but I hope all of you Nashville readers have been staying dry and safe.

This past weekend was a big one, a weekend that I dare say Celine and I have been waiting for since we came out to Salem to find a place to live. It was the weekend of the Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel! Some of you may remember us talking about visiting a monastery last time we were here. That was in Mt. Angel, which is a small community settled by Germans not far from Salem. Back in June when we came out, they were already advertising for the Oktoberfest, and after enjoying our first visit so much, we put it on our calendars. I think this picture sums up why we’d want to go back:

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That’s the town square! This was during the fest of course, so there are a ton of people hanging around. Why would folks just hang around in the square at Oktoberfest, you ask? Because at certain times of the day, this happens:

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Basically, that tower is a huge cuckoo clock, and three times a day, the doors open up and these wooden figures do their dance. It’s pretty cool, especially if you like Germans and cuckoo clocks. And wooden figures.

Anyway, clocks are not the main attraction at an Oktoberfest. Great German music, delicious food and beer are the real stars.

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That’s me with a delicious beer and a sausage with kraut haloed in heavenly light. As it should have been. Astute observers will notice I’m wearing my Lebowskifest shirt. The guy at the beer counter saw this shirt and said, “Lebowski? That’s almost my name. Are you Polish?” Thank you, Donnie.

In this same tent, we watched this amazing German band play:

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You may have trouble seeing the band in this picture, as there is a man in full German costume with a feather duster on his head in the foreground. Please accept our apologies. The music was really great, that girl with the fiddle was quite good, and they played a lot of traditional German folk songs, which means a lot of singing along and drinking beer. I don’t know any of the words to German folk songs, but I do know how to drink beer, so it all worked out.

After the food and beer we headed over to the kindergarten for the highlight of the day: wiener dog races. Yep, you read that correctly. On the way there, we saw this lovely site:

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Delicious on toast!

Chalk this up to more Oregon weirdness: they call port-a-johns “Honey Buckets” out here, which is at least 10,000 times more disgusting. These things are everywhere, they were at the fair too. I would rather call them “poop thrones, ” at least I know what I’m getting.

Anyway, wiener dog races. Basically, you take a bunch of wiener dogs and you put them in a box. Then, you send all the owners down to the end of  the chute, and you open the front of the box. All of the wiener dogs come wandering out, and the owners jump up and scream and call their dog like a bunch of idiots. The first dog to cross the line wins. Now, let me be very clear here. This is not like a true dog race, mainly because it doesn’t appear that anyone has told the wiener dogs that they are, in fact, in a competition. When the front of the box was lifted, many of the dogs wandered around behind the box, some of them went to the edges of the “track” and tried to get the people there to pet them, and very few of them moved with any sort of purpose. The owners were far more interested in getting the win.

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Notice that none of these dogs are blurred in the pictures. Their speeds were, shall we say, modest. One of the dogs in this heat was named Emma, and I’m almost sure she won. It did rain on us during the races, but only briefly.

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Luckily, I came prepared, as did Celine:

Note the sexy new glasses.

Note the sexy new glasses.

That’s Blue Steel I’m giving you there. Magnum isn’t quite ready yet. After the rain let up a bit, we headed back to the fair for more phallic food:

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Yikes. Then it was back to the music halls for more beer and a great accordion band led by this guy:

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To his right, you’ll see the 92 year old woman that he sang for here. He was a great showman and a good player, he wandered around the hall and stood on top of the tables while he played.

All in all, an excellent day. Food items consumed but not pictured: Fondue and potato pancakes. I think we’ll be frequenting this little party every year that we are here, and if you ever hear of wiener dog races near you, do not miss that golden opportunity. That is all.

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