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How to Get Ready for the Return of Denver Oktoberfest

Local meisters share how to eat, lift, and yodel your way to a win in this year’s games.

Oktoberfest 2020—here and worldwide—was yet another event lost to that fun-sucking void known as the pandemic. Denver’s annual celebration, one of the largest in the country based on beer consumption alone, saw its first complete halt since it began in 1969. If ever there were a year when overt folksiness and zany festivities were needed in our lives, though, it’s 2021. Fortunately, mile-high Germanophiles can once again don their lederhosen and stroll Larimer Street between 20th and 22nd streets during the final two weekends of September to gorge on pretzels, guzzle Pilsner, and participate in a blitzkrieg of competitions. Here, a few of our favorite events paired with advice from the experts on how to prepare for a win.

Stein Hoisting

This Bavarian competition isn’t what you might call a thinking man’s game. No, stein hoisting requires little more than great delts. That’s because a traditional German stein weighs three pounds, plus a liter of suds. Hoisting it means holding it out with a straight arm, parallel to the ground. The last man (or woman) left holding the payload wins. So what’s the best method for winning the longest cheers ever? Three-time winner and Berthoud resident Jake Kucera never lifts a stein until the day of competition. “It’s bad luck to actually train with it,” he says. Call him superstitious, but Kucera’s time of 16 minutes and 48 seconds in 2019 means you also must call him the champ.

Yodeling

So you secretly stan Fräulein Maria of The Sound of Music. Who doesn’t? But getting your warble to carry over the Alps in a twangy upper register means you’ll need some practice “breaking” your voice. Greeley cowboy crooner Gary McMahan says a decent yodel begins in one’s diaphragm with a vowel sound, like “ay,” then glides up into a squeaky “ee” to create that iconic Swiss quaver. McMahan suggests mimicking Mickey Mouse’s falsetto and repeating, “Come here, Pluto, c’mon boy,” until you’re ready to tackle “The Lonely Goatherd.” Since most folks on Larimer Street stick with a basic “yo-de-lay-ee-oo,” a few reps during your morning shower could help you secure the 2021title.

Brat Eating

This contest requires an accordionlike stomach. It’s also not for the squeamish. Former Colorado Mammoth defenseman Brad Richardson had the unfortunate luck during Oktoberfest 2011 to go up against competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who recently won his 14th Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, devouring 76 franks in 10 minutes. Richardson, who recalls only being able to eat about four wieners to Chestnut’s 38 in eight minutes, offers this advice: “Close your eyes or wear horse-racing blinders to avoid witnessing others choking down their brats,” he says. “It’s a disgusting, disgusting thing to watch, and it’ll probably impede your ability to keep the dogs down.”

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