Summerfest (or the Art of Endurance Drinking)

This truly is a sporting event for alcholics.  It’s held in Milwaukee every summer from late June to early July and is an excellent opportunity to get together with some family and friends, see some live music, and take a good year or two off your lifespan.

My friend, Alec, turned me on to Summerfest when I was in college.  I was initiated in this sacred, time-honored Bolas tradition.  This may not be the prevailing wisdom, but in my opinion, the music is secondary to the drinking.    We have attended Summerfest for many years now and while we have seen bands like Nine Inch Nails,Social Distortion, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Bauhaus, most of the day we are watching cover bands and getting absolutely smashed out of our skulls.

The prices for the food and drink are fairly reasonable.  While they do have the standard Miller and Budweiser garbage beer, they also have a couple nice microbreweries that you can choose for a similar price.   $5 can get you a nice dark Old World Octoberfest lager from Milwaukee’s Water Steet Brewery or a tasty IPA from Lakefront Brewery.  There are some nice places to shop, some decent cover bands, and the stretch of land by the lake is especially nice to walk up and down.  There’s also some good people-watching at Summerfest, even more so after everyone gets drunk.

Here is your Summerfest itenenary:

First off as a word of caution, prepare yourself by not getting hammered the night before as your liver will need as much strength as possible to process the oceans of alcohol you are going to imbibe the next day.  Secondly, prepare yourself mentally that you will be drinking consistently throughout the day.  The goal ultimately is to be as drunk as possible for the duration of the day without getting too smashed that you end up either throwing up on yourself or passing out on the table(me, circa 2004).

So upon arriving around 12:00 PM, you should first proceed to pick up a beer.  Then go in search of food.  Upon acquring a decent cheeseburger, pick up your second beer.  If possible, start a drinking contest with one of your friends to see who’s had the most beers by the end of the day without vomiting or passing out.  You will drive each other to greater and greater heights of drunkenness as the day progresses.  Then I would recommend finding a stage with a half decent cover band to plant yourself down and let the drinking begin.  If you get too baked by the sun, go and cool off on the rocks by the lake.  Grab another couple beers.  Grab a martini at the martini tent if you’re particularly adventurous.  Around 3:00 you should have a pretty decent buzz going on.  If you’re already wasted at this point, I’d recommend backing off a bit as you have to go until midnight and you’ll start to get sleepy around 5 or 6.  Go for a walk.  Avoid any band called, “The Zombies”, and failing that prepare yourself for an exercise in mediocrity.  Grab a couple more beers.  As a die-hard Cubs fan, remind any Brewers fans you encounter that your team is in first place, not theirs, and that they must be inferior human beings because of this fact.  Grab a couple more beers.  Remind any Brewer fans you encounter that your team is in first place, not theirs, and that they must be inferior human beings because of this fact.  Slur while saying it.  Enjoy the adventure of navigating the crowds and keeping your center of balance.  Grab another beer.  Around 7, grab some dinner.  You have now reached the home stretch.  You needn’t concern yourself with pacing.  Now you must make sure to beat that other bastard you’ve been competing with all day.  You must also beat the clock.  They will stop serving beer at 10 and you’ll be there until 12.  This leaves two hours of gloating over your fallen opponent once you defeat them.  Go see the final show.  Struggle to keep your eyes open and express yourself in a semi coherent fashion.  Finally, make sure to thank the poor sap who has stopped drinking around midday in order to drive home a bunch of severely obnoxious drunk people.

The next day wake up and feel like you want to die.  But be very grateful that you are stopping for a nice meal involving fried cheese on your way home.

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