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Monday, November 5, 2007

One night in Helen


DINNER AT THE FESTHALLE IN HELEN: It was the wurst of times.

On Saturday, I grabbed my passport and some Euros before jumping into the family Volkswagen and heading north. My destination, Helen – North Georgia’s very own German alpine village.

The reason for my visit was Oktoberfest, which draws so many people to the town that Helen’s führers leaders have conveniently extended it into November.

There are two Oktoberfests. There’s the daytime Oktoberfest of families and bikers shopping for fudge and “Not Sober Fest” T-shirts. It’s Dahlonega-meets-Underground and I could do without it.

Then, there’s nighttime Oktoberfest – a cheerful, easygoing, family-friendly party at the town Festhalle fueled by beer, bratwurst, knockwurst, bockwurst, and danceable oompah music courtesy of the Dan Witucki Trio – all four of them.

Das ist kitsch, certainly, but the spirit is warm and communal in a way most bars or even neighborhood festivals aren’t to me. It was a bit like a happy wedding reception.

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