Sunday, September 21, 2003

German teens rate Oktoberfest 'like McDonald's'



By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The two high school students walked past The German Place food booth. They shared a look. Then they laughed. For Ludwig Hageneder, 16, and Sebastian Ernst, 16, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati made something blatantly obvious - they weren't in Germany anymore.

The two are part of the German-American Partnership Program, which brought 32 German students and two teachers to Oak Hills High School for three weeks this fall.

Many of the students spent Saturday afternoon at the beer and brat fest that is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the biggest such fest outside the original in Munich.

"They usually have two different reactions," said Eva Schott, an Oak Hills High School German teacher involved with the exchange program, along with teacher Christina Martich. "Some say, 'Oh, it's so cute. The Americans are eating wurst and drinking beer.' But there are always some who roll their eyes and say, 'Oh my gosh.'

"It's like going to a McDonald's in Germany. It's not the same."

Most of the Deutsch teens have already attended Oktoberfest celebrations back home. They're from the town of Dingolfing, about 60 miles northeast of Munich.

"It does not compare," said Matthias Ueberreiter, 16. "In Munich, it is much bigger and in a field. There are many big rides and roller coasters."

The Oktoberfest grub - everything from German egg rolls to filet mignon sandwiches - drew strange looks from the German students.

"It's interesting to see what they sell as German food, because we haven't heard of a lot of it before," said Anke Biroga, 32, an English teacher in Dingolfing. "Like the funnel cake - I ate it for the first time here."

E-mail mdowns@enquirer.com

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