Life What’s Wrong With This Picture?
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.
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.