July is gin and tonics, and August is the time to languish in margaritaville.

October? Well, that’s synonymous with beer, of course.

At least, it is in America. Oktoberfest traditionally runs from the third weekend of September until the first Sunday of October. But in the land of cheap beer, it’s a license to throw parties right through Halloween.

Why else do you think we spell Oktoberfest with a “k”? The person making the party posters had a snootful, that’s why.

October is the only month when it’s socially acceptable for men to wear knee pants and lederhosen.

Women connect with their inner German tarts by dressing in low-cut blouses that make them look like they just stepped out of a cuckoo clock.

Drinking so much beer in October goes to peoples’ heads, and they do crazy things like organize chicken flings and stuff bratwurst down their pieholes.

Yes, those are all real things happening here in Maine during the month of October. So you’d better get busy practicing your German toasts. Here, we’ll get you started:

Prost!

Zum Wohl!

YOU WANT ME TO FLING A WHAT?

The only thing that would make a chicken fling more fun is if it used real chickens.

Alas, our visions of tossing frozen poultry, a la turkey bowling, have been spoiled. And there will be no feathers flying as we heave a flailing Henny Penny toward Aunt Flo’s waiting arms.

But the fam can still have fun flinging rubber chickens with big rubber slingshots at the Swine & Stein Oktoberfest celebration in Gardiner on Saturday.

There will be lots of good eats to fuel throwing arms at the festival, which is hosted by Gardiner Main Street (www. gardinermainstreet.org). The swine part of Swine & Stein will be provided by restaurants and vendors serving their versions of farm-to-table pork. Wash it all down with craft beers from 10 Maine brewers.

If flinging rubber chickens isn’t your thing, there will also be a dunk tank and stick pony races, all accompanied by live music.

Tickets are $11, which gets you into the event and includes three 5-ounce beers. Subsequent beer tickets are three for $5. It’s $6 for people who don’t want any beer. Children under age 12 get in free, and of course don’t get any beer.

Tickets are on sale at all Bull Moose locations and at Gardiner merchants. On the day of the event, tickets will be available at the front entrance on Main Street.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 582-3100.

DON’T BE A BRAT – EAT ONE INSTEAD

So you’ve been in a hot dog-eating contest before.

You think you’re so tough? Try downing eight bratwurst – with buns – in three minutes or less.

That’s the challenge Jim Albert, aka Jimmy the Greek, is throwing down at his third annual Oktoberfest weekend Oct. 8-10 at Jimmy the Greek’s Brick Oven Restaurant and Pub, 215 Saco Ave., Old Orchard Beach.

The weekend includes lots of beer, German beer girls, an oompah band and grills filled with German food. The fun starts at noon each day.

Admission to Oktoberfest is $10, but that fee is waived for anyone brave enough to enter the bratwurst-eating competition, which will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 9.

The contest will be broadcast live on the radio, with live play-by-play. The winner gets to choose between a trip to Las Vegas and a trip to the Caribbean.

Albert (who really is Greek) said 10 to 15 people usually enter the contest, but it’s fun to watch, too.

Walk-in contestants are welcome, but Albert says it would help with preparations if they pre-register.

The current brat-eating record was set by the winner of last year’s contest. He consumed all eight bratwursts in just under three minutes. Previously, no one had been able to get past six.

“We had one gentleman last year who ate them two at a time, soaked them in water,” Albert said. “He was somebody you might have seen on the eating challenges on ESPN. But for the most part, it’s just average joes – and women, we’ve had a few women.”

Don’t worry about having to choke down a bunch of German mustard. The brats are served plain in the bun.

Still, it’s not easy by any means.

“Bratwursts are very hard to eat,” Albert said. “It’s not as simple as a hot dog.”

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]