Stephanie Strothmann wasn’t sure if she’d even get the opportunity to compete.
The Seymour woman was an alternate for the women’s Seymour Oktoberfest Stein Hoist competition Saturday afternoon at the biergarten.
Sure enough, a participant did not show up for the contest and Strothmann’s name was called.
As they say, what happened from there was history. Strothmann outlasted the other 11 participants with a 4:40 time to seal the victory. She outlasted second place finisher Melissa McQueen, who posted a time of 4:39.
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“It is amazing to win and I was just glad to be able to participate,” Strothmann said. “Since I saw it last year, I knew I wanted to do it.”
To win the competition, participants must fully extend their arm while holding a full stein of Spaten Oktoberfest beer. Their thumb also must go over the hand of the mug and their alternate hand should be left at their hip.
Participants face elimination if beer spills out of the glass, they bend their arm or if they lay the glass down on the table.
Each participant received a glass, shirt, sunglasses and more. Winners received a beer boot as a trophy and other goodies.
Women held a liter glass while men held a two liter glass.
For the men’s division, a familiar face outlasted the field of competition.
Terry D. Miller took home his second career victory in the competition with a 3:50 time, edging out Andy Gillaspy who posted a 3:46. In addition to the two victories, Miller has finished second twice, potentially catapulting him into a legendary status for the competition.
“It’s awesome to win again and this time of the year is what we look forward to,” he said after the competition. “Everyone gets together to see each other and it’s a great time to be with family and friends.”
Zach Clark, an Oktoberfest board member who helps organize the popular event, said the idea to begin one came from research about German festivals.
“We wanted to do something that would bring people together while celebrating German heritage,” he said.
In that research, Clark said board members found many festivals in the area organize a stein hoist for fun.
“It’s a great way to bring people together,” he said.
The event does bring people together as a large crowd built up way ahead of the competition’s start time. A crowd even lined the fence outside the biergarten to watch.
That’s exactly the kind of event that Clark and organizers had in mind when they started offering the competition.
“That’s great because that’s what we love,” he said. “It’s awesome to see that many people that like it.”
Josh Lakins, who serves as the emcee for the competition, said he loves how it brings a large group of people together.
He believes getting the crowd involved leads to a better competition.
“I feel that people can hold the stein longer if people are cheering,” he said after the competition.
Lakins dresses in traditional Bavarian attire for the event and leads the crowd in a German toast. He also spent time handing out Koozies, bottle openers and more to the crowd in between competitions.
“I like engaging the people to get them involved and hype them up,” he said.
As a beer lover, the victory meant something to Strothmann.
“It means all kinds of things, but I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of or ashamed of,” she said with a laugh.
Posting the 4:40 time, Strothmann said it started to feel like she held the glass for a long time near the end. She credited her work raising chickens and ability to stay focused as the reason she won.
“I did train, but I carry buckets of water for chickens and collect eggs each day,” she said. “I tried to stay focused and listened to the German music behind me.”
For Miller, he decided not to disclose his secret, but said that much of the competition is mental.
“I just try to tune everything out and keep going,” he said.
Miller said the competition is something fun for the participants and spectators who take it all in.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said before taking a victory sip of beer. “The Spaten is wonderful and it can’t get any better.”
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Winners of the Seymour Oktoberfest Stein Hoist competition
Second;Melissa Ann McQueen;4:39
Second;Andy Gillaspy; 3:46