So, for those of you not from the area, every year La Crosse, WI hosts this HUGE festival that goes on for over a week. This year, it will start on Friday, 9/26, with the annual tapping of the Golden Keg (i.e., an excuse for area drunks to skip work and get toasted), and the party carries on through the weekend, the next week, before wrapping up on Saturday night, October 4th. La Crosse is known for this festival, a time when our city of 50,000 doubles in population! If you want more information on Oktoberfest, visit http://www.oktoberfestusa.com/ . The origins of Oktoberfest are from Germany (where the largest of Oktoberfest celebrations take place), but you don't have to be German here to partake in the festivities.
Anyway, one of the annual traditions is the Oktoberfest Medallion Hunt. In the past, my husband and I would peek at the clues but we haven't actively searched in about 10 years. The year we almost got the Medallion was when we were at the wrong school. There are 2 big public schools in La Crosse--they are Logan High School (northside of La Crosse, where my hubby graduated from) and Central High School (South side of La Crosse). One of the clues that year (I think it was 1999 or 2000) led us under the bleachers outside at Central High School. We couldn't find the medallion, so we gave up. Later that day, the medallion was found under the bleachers at Logan High School! We were so close. The prize is $500 cash, tickets to the Festmaster's Ball, and gift certificates for local businesses.
So, this year when the first clue came out, we decided to give it a try. Last Monday was the first day of clues. We kept in mind that often the first clue will give a very general hint at the location of the medallion (this year it started out, "As we chug ahead with each crisp fall day...") so we were pretty sure a train/train tracks would be near the location of the beloved coin. Anyway, I'll just touch briefly on some of the experiences we had this year. Let's just say at one point we thought we knew where it was so off the hubby went with his flashlight in hand, looking in and around a cemetery at 9:30 pm....along with 20 other people. The whole family made several trips, quite a daunting task when you're dealing with a baby/toddler who likes his stroller to keep moving (set him on the ground and he will eat rocks and other non-edible items). My mother and I went looking all over the place on Saturday and we were so close to the location of the medallion, it wasn't even funny. We were literally a block over from it. Sunday morning, we woke up at 5:45 am to get the day's clue and were so certain of it's location that we grabbed Andrew and took off in the car around 6:30 a.m. We were the first ones there, and more and more people showed up as the time passed on (obviously we were all thinking the same thing). Let's just say that we were so certain it was hidden in a pine tree that DH crawled underneath it and climbed inside to take a peek (not an easy task, considering how sharp the needles were and how low to the ground the branches were lying). After an hour-and-a-half at the same location with no luck, we were brainstorming in car when Andrew started fussing. That's when the hubby said, "I'm done looking for this thing; let's wait until tomorrow's clue" and we went home. Later on that day, we heard the news that the medallion had been found (Aunt L heard it on the radio, but was not sure of the location). I was at my grandparents' house along with the rest of my family, and I just had to know the location so I called the radio station and they told me. Zephyr Circle. Zephyr was the name of the silver bullet train, and I had uttered the word earlier in the morning, not knowing there was a road by the same name. I told my mom and we started screaming because we were JUST in that area the day before. We could have had it. Not to mention, the location was just one of the few grassy boulevards in the center of a neighborhood in the area. The husband and I checked two of these the day before and they were almost identical to the one where the medallion was found. Here are the clues so you can read for yourself; now that the medallion has been found the website gives meaning behind those clues: http://www.oktoberfestusa.com/2008/Medallion/medallion.htm
The good thing to come of this is we learned a lot about the history of the area, including Granddad Bluff (which we sometimes take for granted in this area). We did so much reading (thank you, Google) and we checked out this sweet book from the public library (a 700+ page book that came out earlier this year on the history of La Crosse...we will most likely purchase this book from the La Crosse Historical Society). We were dead on with all of the clues (all but one of them) and we know that we came close. I keep telling myself that we came in 2nd place, and next year we will find the Medallion. Also, we congratulate the winner--Amber!