The German reputation for stoicism isn't always well-deserved. For every bit of humorless punctuality my people may possess, there is a lot of mischief in the German culture. Oktoberfest, anyone? And who can forget the Weimar Republic, under which social mores were demolished in favor of all-night parties, sexual free expression, and Liza Minelli with spit curls and a bowler hat? And there's no more amusing food on the planet than the bratwurst. Sure, the German people have had their troubles, but every year, Old World Village in Huntington Beach hosts German Heritage Day, where people of all backgrounds can celebrate the most pleasant aspects of German culture by congregating for food, drinks, oom-pah music and—my favorite German export—the Dachshund Race.
Low-slung and cylindrical as the bratwurst itself, the dachshund is well-known in the field of animal athletics for its single-minded pursuit of . . . anything it wants at any given time. Lacking the discipline of its more focused countrydog, the German Shepherd, the dachshund, when placed into a situation such as this race, summons up some of that Weimar spirit and inevitably runs toward whatever strikes its fancy—which, every once in a while, turns out to be the finish line. Far more frequently though, hilarity ensues as the dogs, unaware of the point of the task at hand, go wild at their sudden and short-lived freedom and take some time to investigate the grass, the scent of sausage in the air and their fellow competitors. It's a spectacle worth seeing at least once in your life—especially after you've put away some pilsner that has been brewed under the strict auspices of the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot.
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German Heritage Day and Dachshund Races at Old World Village, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 895-8020; www.oldworldvillage.net . Sun., 2 p.m. Free.