Sunday, October 3, 2010


     The most unusual variation of that Fall Festival in the world started yesterday in Cullman Alabama, perhaps the only Oktoberfest of any size without beer.

     I attended one Oktoberfest in Germany in 1999, and it was a beer-fueled event that filled a dozen tents the size of football fields. And I drank not a drop. In fact in my life, I've probably consumed a half six-pack.  

     Beer has obviously never been my drink of choice.

     The Cullman event is relatively was started as a church fundraiser in the 1970's and grew from there.

     Cullman is a post Civil War city, like it's much-larger neighbor---Birmingham-- an hour to the South. And like Birmingham is also has a bleak history of bigotry. The German businessman who developed Culman was almost murdered by a local farmer upset by the newcomer immigrants from Germany, and the city outlawed blacks from settling there. There was even a sign warning blacks not to be there after sunset. (There is some dispute over the details, such as documented in a Cullman Times series.)      

     But traditions do end. In 2008 a black man, James Fields, defeated the white Republican candidate for a House District seat in 2008. And the Cullman dry Oktoberfest could be ending in 2011. Votes are being counted on a referendum that would allow voters to say yea or nay on going "wet", at least in the city of Cullman (not the entire County of Cullman.) Several times in recent years, similar wet/dry votes have been rejected by city residents. We'll see.

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