Former Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest Queens Melissa Tangeman and Tracey Rice are coaches for future stein-carrying ladies. They have a handful of tricks up their sleeves to better prepare the contestants for the 2019 crown.

“It is a competition of strength,” Rice says to the ladies who joined the first stein-carrying practice at the Big Bear Lake Convention Center on Sept. 4. “You have to practice (because) everybody has their own thing (way to carry steins).”

It’s not all about the arm strength, it’s a lot of wrist, legs and lower-back strength that will determine how many steins a contestant can carry across the Convention Center floor.

“The weight (of the steins) is one thing,” Holly Shelton says about stein-carrying. “It’s more about the technique and position.” Shelton has worked at the Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest for 12 years and has competed in the stein-carrying competition almost every year.

“Size doesn’t matter,” Tangeman says to the ladies at practice. “It’s not a luck thing. It’s who doesn’t let the adrenaline get to them. A lot of girls are too confident or crack under the pressure. Go slow and let go.”

The competition doesn’t end until the steins are placed on the table. That’s what the title of Oktoberfest Queen comes down to. Not only does the contestant have to pick up 12 or more steins, she has to place them on a table 30-feet away while spilling less water than everyone else.

“Every drop counts,” Rice says. “It could literally be kilometers of water. Whoever has the least amount of spillage is the winner. If we get into big numbers, 17 and 19 (steins), we will be more lenient on the spillage.”

Practice begins by carrying 12 and 13 steins. The following week they will add a couple more steins to the carries. Rice explains that the position of the handles when carrying 12, 13 and 14 steins is pretty easy. The stakes are higher when it increases to 15, 16 and 17 steins. The carrying positions drastically change.

Rice says again that contestants have to practice.

Without a crowd of Oktoberfest goers cheering them on, practice is a bit easier than taking the main stage.  At Oktoberfest, “You get butterflies,” Rice says. “The adrenaline is rushing. It’s a high level thing. “

How many steins will the Oktoberfest queen carry this year? The first preliminary round is Saturday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. The competition continues each Saturday at the same time until the finals on Oct. 5 at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 909-585-3000.

Oktoberfest is at the Convention Center at Big Bear Lake, 42900 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake.

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