NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Ah, autumn, when a man's thoughts turn to lager.
Over the next few weeks, millions of people across North America will mark the change of the seasons by donning leather shorts and pointy green hats, dancing the polka, or just chowing down on sauerkraut and bratwurst.
But everyone will join together in one great communal avocation: beer drinking.
It's Oktoberfest time again. Between now and mid-November, there will be nearly 200 major celebrations across the country, according to one German heritage Web site.
The festivities include weeklong events held on enormous fairgrounds, urban street festivals taking place over one or more weekends, and parties at breweries and brewpubs. (Click here for the list.)
Many fans think of Cincinnati as King of the Brewfests. The title is hotly contested by La Crosse, Wis., whose Oktoberfest is older, and Kitchener, Ont., which attracts more people.
Even so, Cincy makes a pretty good claim. For one thing, the city holds at least three distinct Oktoberfests. The Germania Society sponsored the first back in August.
The big one, dubbed Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, took place last weekend and drew an estimated 500,000 people to the River City, according to the organizers. Those partiers ate 300,000 sausages and more than 3,600 pounds of sauerkraut, and washed it down with beer from more than 40 different vendors.
|More Good Life columns
That's a success by any measure, but Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati's most enduring fame may come from the one held in 1994. That year, some 48,000 revelers flapped their arms in the air like they just didn't care, setting a Guinness record for the world's largest chicken dance.
And if hijinks like that weren't enough for the good people of southwestern Ohio, there's the third Oktoberfest in the middle of next month.
Roundup of festivals
Here's a list of upcoming Oktoberfests in different regions. If you can't make it to one, take heart: St. Patrick's Day is less than six months away.
La Crosse, Wisconsin (Sept. 24-Oct. 2)
"Beers, brats, and babes" goes the unofficial slogan of this beloved Cheesehead ritual, held since since 1961. La Crosse once boasted eight breweries, though most are closed or part of bigger companies now. The weeklong event features many parades: the Maple Leaf parade, Kids Day parade, and a big walkabout involving lit torches on the last night of the brewhaha. Some 175,000 people will attend to pay homage to the world's largest six pack.
Helen, Georgia (Sept. 16 - Nov. 6)
Tiny Helen (pop. 300) fancies itself as a Bavarian village where folks speak with drawls. Everything about the town, from its streets to its buildings to its restaurants, is Germanic in style. Befitting such a burg, they put on one crazy party up in the Blue Ridge mountains: It lasts for six weeks, and draws hundreds of thousands from all over the Southeast.
Leavenworth, Washington (Oct. 1-2, and 7-8)
If you're in the Northwest and missed the big Mt. Angel festival last weekend (estimated attendance: 300,000), there's still time to get out to Leavenworth for another one. Like Helen, Ga., this is an American town that's lost in Bavaria. This Oktoberfest won't be nearly as big as Helen's or Mt. Angel's, but it will feature good oom-pah-pah bands -- and the Cascade Mountains as a backdrop.
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (Oct. 8-16)
This area of Canada has deep German roots -- Kitchener was called Berlin until the name changed during World War I -- so they throw a party just like in the Old Country. More than 20 different beerhalls will take over a large part of downtown Kitchener. The weeklong festival will attract some 700,000 beer drinkers.
Tulsa, Oklahoma (Oct. 21-24)
Soonerfest celebrates its 26th anniversary this year, in a city where more than 20 percent of all residents claim German ancestry. About 200,000 turned out last year for beer and brats. This year, there will be Bier Barrel Races, carnival rides, and a Polka Mass. Oh, and lots of tipsy Tulsans will parade around in a Volksmarsch, or "people's march."
The Good Life is a weekly column that chronicles products, people and trends in luxury consumer goods, travel, and fine food and drink. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.