Cleanse yourself of every defilement of flesh and spirit I have read. Thus, I sit here with my last Samuel Adams Octoberfest gently rinsing away the icky from a paltry, so-called beer festival/Octoberfest I hath just attended.
Kingman‘s “Oktoberfest” is now in its fourth year. It’s been held in downtown Kingman at Locomotive Park right across from the Powerhouse. I did not attend the first three because I knew this was Kingman and had a faint idea of what a beer festival in its infancy here would be like. For some reason, a streak of optimism and unfounded hope shot through my brain yesterday and I decided I’d try it this year. After all, I am a novice beer writer, eh? I’m trying to research and delve into the world of beer, right? It’s sort of my responsibility to keep abreast of beer functions and beer culture in my town.
Thus and so I arrived, with an old friend in tow. There was no organization apparent. There was one traffic sign that indicated there was a “special event” ahead and that was it. No signs, no directions as to where to park. We discerned, though, that we needed to park at the Powerhouse. The park was, as noted, across the street. Being in traffic in Kingman, be it vehicular or pedestrian, is taking your life in your own hands. But, we managed to cross the street. The first thing I noticed was that there was no energy in the air at all. No excitement. There were a few other tents/booths set up for people to hawk their wares – rugs, decals, tattoos, other junk – all facing the inside of the park. There was nothing along the road, nothing facing out, nothing inviting people to stop and check out the event.
I was utterly disappointed. As I continued moving on towards the beer tent, I became appalled. At the entrance to one tent I did meet one person I knew; we shook hands and chatted for a moment. He gave me some guidance as to how to proceed into the venue. I’m glad he was there or else I’d have had no idea where to start or where the beer was. That’s right, it’s a beer and brats Oktoberfest and you couldn’t find the beer serving spot without help and couldn’t smell even one brat cooking. No one else really spoke to us at all; they were busy focusing on, I don’t know, themselves. The one good thing I can say about the whole experience is: it was free to get in. Things went downhill after that. Downhill after free? Indeed.
I was told to check out the menu then pay up for whatever food I wanted. There were a few choices:
- Brat and kraut
- Pretzel and cheese
- Something else hidden behind junk on the table
I decide on a pretzel. I pay my $3 for it, am given a ticket and proceed around the table to the spot where the pretzels are. I give the woman behind the counter my ticket, she tosses it in the ticket jar and then proceeds to find out that there are no pretzels ready. She digs my ticket out of the jar and tells me it will be just a few more minutes. Fine. I figured I’d go grab a beer whilst I wait. I’d heard that there were to be German beers at this party. I was intrigued. Here’s the beer menu for Oktoberfest:
- Bud Light (with lime, if you choose)
- Mudshark’s Octoberfest (I apologize if the name is inaccurate; the beer was sold out and marked out on the cheesy beer menu board, thus obscuring the actual name)
- Beck’s Octoberfest
- Maybe something else, a regular Beck’s, I think
Really? German beer? Oh, they must have meant Beck’s. It cost $4.00 for a twelve ounce cup. I buy a couple and wait. And discovered that the classic customer service attitude of Kingman was on display. What’s that, you say? Kingman has a customer service attitude? Well, by that I mean that the vendors and servers give the customers attitude. There is no sense of service or interest at all. My friend and I stand nearby the beer truck and its quickly erected tables, just standing there, observing, sipping the Beck’s Oktoberfest (the lesser of greater evils), not in anyone’s way at all. In fact, no one was line at the time. The beer serving girl comes out to us and snottily tells us that we need to go one way or another; get out of the way basically. So, like, I just forked out $8 for crappy beer from this woman and she can’t even be civil. She has no idea how to deal with the public.
I go back to the pretzel table and it still isn’t ready. It’ll be another twenty minutes. Fine. Me and my friend weave our way through the closely placed, cheap plastic tables and chairs and around all the little cliques and find some seats to wait. There’s a band playing. They’re okay, not great, but not terrible; don’t know if they were from Kingman or not. And they weren’t playing country. Oh, look, I found a second good thing to say. We sit for a while and I go to get my pretzel. It’ll be another five minutes. Meanwhile, during the last seven minutes of waiting about three other people around me get pretzels. Then, the girl who initially took my ticket, then discovered there were no pretzels and had to dig my ticket back out of the big ticket jug, gets a little huffy when I show back up to get the pretzel she told me to come back for. “Oh, I already took their tickets, I’ll get to you when they’re done,” she tells me and starts serving others. Finally, though, I get my pretzel. My beer is gone. It wasn’t worth buying another one.
We’re downtown near the train tracks. So, after the band is done with their set a man whom I will assume is one of the organizers of this event begins bellowing out trivia questions via an underpowered public address system the train was roaring away behind us, sort of, you know, drowning him out. Go figure. Who would have thought that the train would come through then? Oh, that’s right, it regularly passes through Kingman.
Now, listen, I didn’t go there with a bad attitude, expecting bad things. I was actually looking forward to it. I didn’t expect a lot, but I was hoping that maybe Kingman was growing up a little. I wanted it to be a good experience. Instead: snotty vendors, crappy beer and a bunch of old people who get toasted off Bud Light and decide to dance with each other in between closely placed tables to blues music that was okay, but not great. And in Kingman fashion, everyone showed up with other crackheads that they know so they sat about in their little cliques, no milling about, no socializing. It was a giant, open air, overpriced Kingman bar with the accompanying social outcasts and idiots and their cigarettes. Oh, and they brought their kids. Small kids, six and seven and eight.
There is no beer culture here. Well, I take that back. There was no beer culture there. No culture at all, in fact. It was full of dull, crass, unsophisticated Kingmanites. It is worth noting, however, that Mudshark’s beer was the first to sell out. There are those here who can recognize good beer. I’m sure all twelve of them showed up before me and my friend and quickly emptied the keg of good stuff.
I will not be attending another of these so-called “oktoberfests.”
I may very well organize my own. If any out there are with me, let me know.