Enter to win a Washington State New Moon package

New Moon comes out in theaters tomorrow, and to capitalize on the excitement, Washington State is offering a New Moon themed package to one lucky winner as part of its “Experience More” giveaway. Each month from November to April, one grand prize and one mini-prize will be awarded.

The grand prize for November is two nights at the Quileute Oceanside Resort, located near La Push Beach (featured in the Twilight books), in a luxury oceanfront cabin with a Jacuzzi tub and fireplace. The package continues with one night at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles, two Twilight Tour tickets, and a complimentary fire permit and bundle of wood for a fire on First Beach.

A second prize includes a night at the Red Lion in Port Angeles and a kayak excursion on the Olympic Peninsula. Other prizes offered over the next few months include adventures in Leavenworth, Seattle, and Yakima Valley’s wine country.

To enter, just fill out the online form by April 18, 2010. Entrants must be 18 years old and residents of the US or Canada.

Can’t afford Europe? Head to a theme town!

With the dollar dropping into a bottomless pit, there will likely be fewer US visitors to Europe in the coming months. But if your hunger for polka and liederhosen can’t be satiated, head to a theme town to get your European fix. When researching this post, I discovered that most themed towns rely on Oktoberfest and architecture to draw tourists there, so if you like beer, brats, and wood you won’t have to travel across the Atlantic to get them. Here are a few European “villages” the States has to offer:

Solvang, CA

This California-wine country town was founded as the center of a Danish academy, and those roots can still be seen not just in the Danish architecture, but in small details like immaculately-kept gardens. The name Solvang means “sunny field,” and the town’s website promotes a “bright happy cheery feeling.” You might recognize the town from its appearances in both The Simpsons and the movie Sideways.

New Glarus, WI

This “Little Swizterland” isn’t quite as authentic as Solvang, though the Chamber of Commerce’s web site boasts that many Swiss tourists visit the town (isn’t that a little like Americans traveling to Switzerland to visit Wal-mart?). Though it was a Swiss settlement, after WWII, a faltering agricultural industry gave way to the tourist sector. Swiss-styled architecture began popping up, and the alpine meadows created a perfect backdrop for a Swiss-themed town. Today, you can partake in Oktoberfest activies or hear polka bands honking their horns.

Helen, GA

Helen is a completely re-created town. You won’t find much European heritage here — in fact, the town is celebrating a meager 35 years as “a mountain community with a touch of Bavaria.” Complete with cobblestone streets and specialty shops selling everything from cuckoo clocks to schnitzel to wooden toys, Helen is a European stereotype at its tackiest. The town holds a two-month celebration of Oktoberfest, complete with a beer hall housing live polka music. You can also visit the Christmas Shoppe year-round (and it just wouldn’t be a European town if something wasn’t spelled “shoppe” or “olde,” would it?)

Leavenworth, WA

I grew up visiting Leavenworth, and to be honest the Bavarian-modeled village actually was my first taste of “Europe.” Granted, it’s a cheesy reconstruction, much like Helen, Georgia, but it was always fun to visit during Oktoberfest. Much as you would expect from a town that decided to model itself after a stereotypical German mountain village, you can hear live polka, eat bratwurst, visit a nutcracker museum, and shop in “quaint” wooden toy shoppes. It’s a nice town to visit during the winter, when ski trails cross town and the mountains are packed with snow.

Oktoberfest Lessons: The Chicken Dance

To get you ready for this Oktoberfest season, we’ve advised you on what to wear– Lederhosen, given you instructions on how to eat a Weisswurst, shown you the best carnival rides to try, and pointed you towards the best beer. To recap, we’ve hit dress, food, entertainment and libations. What’s missing from this Oktoberfest round-up is dancing. To prevent the situation where you are left standing in your Lederhosen gazing into your beer mug, unsure of what to do on the dance floor, here’s a lesson on the Chicken Dance. Any Oktoberfest celebration wouldn’t be complete without it. Perhaps, you’ve seen it at a wedding. Even when guests are sloshed, this one is doable.

For the easy version, all that’s really required is that you:

  1. Put the fingers and thumbs of each hand together so that you have two chicken beaks–sort of
  2. Raise your beaks to at least shoulder level to look engaged an interested–higher is better–and open and close them four times to the other dancers
  3. Bend your arms at the elbows to simulate bird wings and flap four times.
  4. Wiggle your behind as you bend and your knees so you lower to the floor and comeback up as you continue to wiggle. (Try to do this to four beats in order to look like a pro.)
  5. Repeat the steps, but going faster and faster until the song ends.

Here’s a Chicken Dance how -to run down, complete with an animated chicken, and a You Tube video with a variety of Chicken Dances performed last year at the Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. As the video shows, you can do this dance several times in a day and it’s just a little different each time–as in a tad different, as in almost identical.