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Monday, September 25, 2006

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Posted by on September 25 at 10:23 AM


I took this picture at Fremont Oktoberfest this weekend. It was a beautiful day, the beer was good, and the crowd was cheerful, mellow, and well-behaved. (That might have something to do with all the cops crawling all over the place—you would think you were at Fremont Methtoberfest judging from the police presence.) But there’s something wrong with this picture. Can you tell what it is?

My tiny mug of beer? Nope, you’re supposed to wander around tasting the offerings of different breweries, something the tiny mug facilitates.

Give up?

There are no kids in the crowd behind my tiny mug of beer.

No kids were allowed at Fremont Oktoberfest—well, not behind the eight-foot tall fences where the beer was actually served anyway. There was a kids’ area at the festival—outside the festival, really. But anyone who actually brought his kids to Fremont Oktoberfest and actually wanted a beer—which is, after all, the whole freaking point of an going to an Oktoberfest—was apparently supposed to leave his kids unsupervised the kids’ area.

And what purpose is served by keeping kids out of the area where the beer was served at an Oktoberfest? The animating assumption seems to be this: If you let kids inside a beer garden at a public festival—Bumbershoot, the U-District Street Fair—they will get their hands on beer. And then, by God, we’ll have eight year-olds binge drinking at our street fairs! Never mind that kids are around beer—and beer-drinking adults—in every damn restaurant in town every damn day. Just last week I took my kid to the Red Door in Fremont for a plate of nachos. I drank beer and he drank lemonade—sitting directly across the table from me! Oh, the humanity!

In Germany, which invented Oktoberfests, beer gardens are not on one side of a fence and kids’ areas on the other. Swing sets and teeter-totters are plopped down in the middle of beer gardens, so adults with children can enjoy a couple of beers while keeping a watchful eye on their kids. This serves two crucial purposes. First, parents, it should go without saying, are frequently more in need of a beer than non-parents. Second, it allows children to observe responsible adults—their parents—drinking responsibly.

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Right you are, Dan!

I found myself in Cincinnati (deep red Ohio) earlier this year during their "Bite Of..." festival. Imagine my surprise when I was able to walk through the event (located on blocked-off DOWNTOWN city streets) with any array of alcholic beverages in hand -- beer, margarita, Long Island Iced Tea, whatever.

In a multi-ethnic crowd teeming with kids and teenagers, I saw no problems. Seattle has a serious stick up its ass in this respect.

Our crazy neighbors to the north have several "minors not allowed unless accompanied by an adult" lounges. i noticed this last weekend in vancouver.

Yes, Seattle has a serious stick up its ass. I think we all know that. However, this particular issue can be blamed on one entity. The Washington State Liquour Control Board.

no children? then i'm definitely going next year.

A plethora of beers for the tasting and no kids in sight/earshot? Sounds like a little slice o' heaven to me . . .

Dude, we've been keeping the kids to the south of the beer-fogged adults for years, over where the root beer, zucchini racers, and Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin carving is.

And there is a beer garden over there, so that the kids can sit near the adults, near a little white picket fence.

We're not France. Although we do have a lot of people who speak French.

great point about our society needing a better conversation about responsible alcohol consumption... until you get to the part about the stupid drinking parent - with no designated driver... and there were a few that should have (hopefully) had one... getting behind the wheel to take the family home... i had a great time and took a couple of photos of the first day of fall...

And The Washington State Liquor Control Board has a lot of issues...

Nothing wrong with the pix - this is not Euro - get over yourself Dan.

Feed him beer at home.

When I was growing up I always told myself I'd never become one of those dickheads who hates kids... But now that I'm older and wiser(?), I really can't stand being around kids. I love non-kid events!

Did they allow dogs at the event?

dogs on Sunday only (less crowded then).

Right you are, PabloCJR, but the State's restauran lobby also bears an equal burden of responsibility, since they're the ones who managed to bull a lot of our archaic liquor laws through the WA LCB. They effectively held a monopoly on liquor-by-the-drink for nearly seven decades, which proved to be a very lucrative deal for them.

Now that we're (slowly) walking the road toward civilized, responsible alcoholic consumption, a lot of the laws on the books meant specifically to profit the restaurant industry need to be thrown in the dustbin.

I was at Oktoberfest last weekend, and there were kids everywhere, amusement park rides (the scariest thing ever: a haunted house with german speaking ghosts...think rammstein), and NO DRUNK KIDS!

The kids there wantedt what every kid wants---cotton candy.

I can only imagine how it was in Seattle. Putting a fence around the beer makes it so much more enticing!

I guess this explains why so many people with children drive SUVs--so they have something big enough to carry around around their enormous sense of arrogant entitlement.

Trust me, they only had a kid's area because someone objected to the idea of removing the children via catapult.

Actually, no, Fremont loves kids. We fought to keep BF Day school operating, and while we may party hard and rock all night, there are a lot of neighborhood kids who don't live incredibly sheltered lives. Heck, half of them have probably been to the Burn more times than most sloggers here.

Children are disease-ridden sponges.

The WSLCB represents a spirit of neo-Puritanism that has been part of our fair state for at least the last one hundred years. Did you know we have prohibition BEFORE everyone else did?

The same clenchbutts that blanche at the idea of strippers and booze commingling are the types that prissily sit their asses down for designer beers in their silly little beer gardens, and then bore you to death with their recollections of their trips to Europe.

If it were up to me, I'd abolish the WSLCB, let the grocery stores handle liquor sales, let the police handle alcohol-behavior issues, and make the tax revenue go towards social services.

But then we'd have to deal with the epidemic of the clenchbutt's heads exploding.

But, Dan, this is America -- there are no responsible adults, only Americans. All places and events where alcohol is served must by law include several shame-inducing mechanisms to make the imbibers feel like criminals. Separating them from their children is just part of it.


Kids are cool, hipster adults with attitudes are lame!

It is pretty awesome that you can't bring you're children into the beer garden with you, yet - seemingly by design as it is any festivals goal to attract people from all over - you can load you're kiddies up into your car and drunkenly attempt to drive them home. Sweet!

We rode our bikes....

First, the beauty of German allows one to succinctly name the phenomenon whereof DS speaks: der Fremontoktoberfestchensbiergartenekindermangel.
Second, the Fremontoktoberfestchensbiergartenekindermangel is really a shame because it provided for a great opportunity for practicing algebra. "Uncle Otto is in Munich drinking Optimator in litre glasses. Uncle Jurgen is in Fremont drinking Fat Tire in 20cl glasses. Optimator is 3/2 the strenght of Fat Tire. Both men hold their alcohol equally well. Uncle Otto passes out in three hours after consuming 8 litres. How fast will uncle Jurgen have to drink to pass out at the same time."

Not saying that everyone attending is irresponsible, or that they could realistically do anything to mitigate peoples bad choices (realistically Seattle will always be a car-centric town). It's just a classic scenario that's practically designed to get people to drive drunk - busers, bicyclist, etc. and locals excluded.

It was just the first image that popped into my head - drunk parents going to fetch their kids from the kiddy area and loading them into the car.

Any adult who brings a child to an event with alcohol, especially if they come by car, is endangering the child! Even one mini beer is too much for driving, especially when a child is on board!

And what sort of message are we sending to children when we see people enjoying alcohol?

If our daughters see a strip club, they will lose all self-esteem and end up working at the Red Apple by day and stripping by night. If our sons see a strip club, it will tell them it's OK to objectify women, and they will neglect school in favor of becoming a pimp.

Nudity is never appropriate. While I celebrate sexuality, I think it's too messy.

Don't care about the kid issue, but I do want give the Stranger kudos for supporting the event. And the Stranger should be giving a monster shout-out to the nutballs at Lazy Boy Brewing for brewing the Stranger Double IPA. It was one of the true standouts of the festival in a field with a lot of good beers.

Like most of the other post-ers here, I was born an adult and was never a child. It says so right on my birth certificate - "born 165 pounds, 71 inches at the age of 25." If I had ever been a kid, I would hate myself. We should stop funding schools and parks and put those precious public resources into nightclubs, modern art galleries and bumper cars with leg room. My own child just smiles and babbles at me, he can't differentiate between Arto Parv and Schoenburg. He's sooooo daft... unlike "boomer" and "hates children."

To all the hipster snots who hate kids - the future holds one of two possibilities for you.

1) You'll have kids of your own.

2) You'll become one of those desparate, old, ugly hipsters whose life grows ever more meaningless and pathetic by the year. The hipster snots will mock your sagging ass, thinning hair, and wrinkled face. The rest of your friends won't have time for you because they're hanging with their family.

plus, they won't buy you beer.

Personally, it's not children I hate, it's parents who don't teach their children good manners and how to be considerate of other people.

Because those children grow up to be selfish and horrible adults.

It's not kids I hate, it's GIANT STROLLERS.

I hate strollers too. And out-of-control kids, which are usually the products of out-of-control adults...

Little kids run around and bump into adults' legs. That would get old real quick if I were walking around with a mug of beer in hand. It's hard for some people to relax when listening to a dad yelling "Johnny, get back here!" And yeah, the big strollers and oblivious, slow-moving people who push them and periodically stop moving and block everyone behind them are annoying too.

Dan, I respect you wanting to spend time with your kids, but you gotta realize that a neighborhood beer festival is one of the few, few places in the world that just isn't for kids. I'd be as dismayed to find kids at Oktoberfest as you'd be to find a bunch of rowdy young adults in the ball pit at Chuck E Cheese.

I've never been inside a Chuck E Cheese, I'm proud to say.

Sorry, GEM, but kids and beer—and street festivals—do mix. I agree that brats are brats and they shouldn't be tolerated, but kids running around a street fest are part of the action. Or should be.

And they've been doing beer fests in Germany with kids for hundreds of years. Folks who don't want to drink near the kids drink their beers far from the play equipment.

Children should have the right to attend Freemont Beer parties. As a parent I expect to bring my child along to any public place, movies, coffee shops, restaurants, beer gardens.

Parents must demand the right to bring there children everywhere with them.

Don't forget bathhouses, CR. My son loves Basic Plumbing.

Friends don't let other friends drive out-of-control giant strollers with kids in them while drunk on beer.

So, if a parent wants to bring their 16 year old kid in, they should be able to do it, right? And if the parent feels that our liquor laws are the product of clenchbutt puritanism and gives their kid some beer, no trouble right? Except for the promoters and the people that serve the beer.

I was going to try to say something pithy about the playroom at BP, but everything I came up with sounded too creepy.

Suffice to say, allowing children into an Oktoberfest will NOT lead to every parent in town rushing to the neighborhood pub with little Electra or Dresmond in tow. Just as - say it with me - letting anyplace that serves alcohol also have strippers will lead to every bar being a strip club. The market does tend to dictate these things.

But that's not how Seattle thinks.

To all the hipster snots who hate kids - the future holds one of two possibilities for you.

So having kids is the only thing that gives meaning to a person's life? I guess that really sucks for all my 40-something friends who couldn't have kids, or chose not to, who have very interesting, fulfilling lives.

The last time I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, I saw kids running around all over the place having a great time, eating brats and riding bumber cars. I also saw a table of what appeared to be eight or so 12 year olds all sitting around drinking mugs of beer. At the next table over were their family members drinking and keeping an eye on them. Were those kids getting smashed out of their gords? No they weren't but all the other Americans I saw sure as hell were.

SoupyTwist wins.

This is actually a really big issue, and I think important to the culture of Seattle, at least the musical culture.

Perhaps because distances are long in Texas, it seems like multigenrational social and cultural events are more common, and that beer, music and kids mix together more easily.

Every time I'm in Austin for SXSW, I marvel at the many events where people come to hear the music, kids in tow and beer in hand.

Perhaps that's why they have more musical culture down there aimed at people over 30, because it's easier for those people to actually come out and see music more often, when they can bring their kids along.

I wish this were easier to do here. I don't have kids, but many of my friends now do. Many of them also seem to miss being able to get out and see bands more often, like they did before they had kids, and I suspect would welcome the opportunity to attend an event where they could bring their kids, drink a beer, socialize with some grown-ups while their kids run around, and hear some music.

More people going to see live music is good for musicians and good for live music. So I'm all in favor of it.

Dan @ 33 said:
"Sorry, GEM, but kids and beer—and street festivals—do mix. I agree that brats are brats and they shouldn't be tolerated, but kids running around a street fest are part of the action. Or should be."

So what are you suggesting, Dan? That we allow kids but if they act bratty, we turn them into bratwurst and eat them? Hmm, that sounds like a fair solution both sides could agree upon.

"So having kids is the only thing that gives meaning to a person's life? I guess that really sucks for all my 40-something friends who couldn't have kids, or chose not to, who have very interesting, fulfilling lives."

Do they complain loudly about children also?

If I ever get elected to the legislature, i.e. never, the first thing I would do is do away with the state's ridiculous blue laws and invite a more rational approach to alcohol. This would include eliminating the State Liquor Stores, which would, of course, mean I could write off the Labor vote, which would mean that I couldn't get elected as a Democrat, which I am, which means, of course, I will never be in the legislature. So, there it is.

Oh yes, it's the all-powerful and evil labor vote that keeps the state liquor stores open.

Nice try, but like most simple-minded slams at labor, it is pulled ENTIRELY out of your ass - or the ass of whomever does your thinking for you.

Sweetheart, here's a thought: Most of the big chain groceries in this state are union. Since they would get the majority of the business, and that would create more union jobs, it's no big deal.

How sad it must be to be scared of people who aren't afraid to organize. Maybe someday, when you get tired of your boss peeing on you, you might just get enough backbone to stand up for yourself.....

To PABLOCJR, COMTE, et al: The blame for separating parents from their children may not have been due to the WALCB. As a member of the Washington Brewer's Guild (not affiliated with the Fremont Oktoberfest) I know that the Summer Festival traditionally held at St. Edwards park each Father's Day did allow children to enter with their parents. The children's play area was fenced in with the rest of the festival.

We would have been able to have this same (very) succesful format at this year's Father's Day fest at Fisher Pavilion according to our special use license from WSLCB. A last minute decision by a Seattle Center official forced us to fence the beer-tasting parents off from their children. This really screwed a number of families who did not count on having to split up to enjoy the festival. The guild is planning on re-locating the festival to a family-friendly venue for summer '07.

As someone who has been at a lot of local festivals, and doesn't have kids, I prefer the family-friendly events because the mood is more relaxed and civilized, just as others have described the German festivals.

I lived in Munich for years. Biergarten are indeed family-friendly venues filled with mostly responsible drinkers. Oktoberfest, however, is not. It is full of rowdy drunks, an outsized fraction of whom are Italians and Australians, who are peeing against the fences, throwing up in the corners, groping the waitresses, and making poor attempts at singing along with the bands playing om-pa pop. The only way to stand it is to rapidly get drunk yourself.

Not saying that everyone attending is irresponsible, or that they could realistically do anything to mitigate peoples bad choices

I was at the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria, BC, a few weeks ago. Every ticket stub had a bus pass attached. I thought it was a great idea.

Refrain: Seattle's full of social conservatives. Especially in Fremont. God, some of those people need to be bitchslapped back into common sense.

no, no conseravtives. Nanny-state liberals. No Strippers! No Booze! No Loud Music! WE'RE WORLD CLASS DAMMIT!!!

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