Dry town drinks to Oktoberfest

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THE CITIZENS of Cullman, Alabama, are feeling distinctly nostalgic for the old country. Most of them are German, and quite a few are from Bavaria, which means at this time of year they think fondly of that beery Munich revelry known as the Oktoberfest.

It's not that they can't stage a celebration of their own - in fact they do.

They are even calling next week's festive events an Oktoberfest. But one crucial ingredient is missing. The beer.

For it is Cullman's misfortune to have been dry for more than 60 years.

So the whole point of the Oktoberfest - to celebrate the harvest of hops and wheat that make up Germany's proudest contribution to world drinking - has been, well, diluted. A few Cullman residents apparently resort to home brew - discreetly absenting themselves to their garages with the excuse that they need to look over their cars.

But for the most part the local community approves of the ethic of hard work and family values without alcoholic intoxication.

It's enough to make real Oktoberfest fans cry into their beer.