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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Kiel

Top Five Fashion Finds at Vektoberfest

As a Wisconsinite with strong German heritage, Vivek Ramaswamy’s cleverly named Vektoberfest campaign event understandably piqued my interest. Walking up to the Jamie Hurd Amphitheater in West Des Moines on that crisp Thursday in October, I was disconcerted to realize that the fall celebration was in actuality a campaign event. In all honesty, I expected that the event would feel more – excuse my lack of a better word – “campaign-y.”

Aside from a smattering of ‘Truth’ yard signs and a Vivek Ramaswamy merchandise booth, the pavilion looked as if it were plucked straight out of a Hallmark movie. Pumpkins, hay bales, and corn stalks spruced up the outdoor space. Families, groups, and individuals alike milled about with their free food and drink in hand, enjoying the live music played by the band on stage. Children eagerly waited in line to color a pumpkin before dashing over to get their face painted.

I will be the first to admit that my campaign event attendance is relatively limited, but in my experience, I’ve learned that most Iowa campaign events have their… quirks. Upon first glance, this Hallmark movie festival seemed to deviate from my initial perception of Iowa political events. It wasn’t until I started to mill and mingle about myself that I found myself noticing one quirk in particular: the fashion.

Put plainly, I doubt the fashion of Vektoberfest would have been approved by the Hallmark wardrobe department. The majority of attendees were dressed in average autumnal attire, but my personal top five favorite fashion finds at Vektoberfest are as follows:

5. Campaign Merchandise

Vektoberfest may have felt like a Hallmark fall festival, but the core component of the event was the campaign. Dispersed throughout the crowd of attendees, volunteers and campaign backers demonstrated their support through their ‘Truth’ shirts and hats. The campaign’s signature starred-and-striped ‘V’ embellished the merchandise worn by other members of the crowd. As the night cooled off, and I found myself stationed by the merchandise stand, I heard the quiet grumbles of several individuals distraught that the stand did not vend anything warmer than a t-shirt. Coming in at number five, the campaign merchandise loses points because of its lack of variety and limited options.

4. Vivek Ramaswamy’s Suit

As the star of the show, all eyes were on GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy as he walked onto the amphitheater grounds. The namesake of Vektoberfest wore a slightly dressed-down version of the classic male candidate attire: a suit. The first button of his pressed white undershirt was undone, giving a slightly more laid-back look to his fitted blue suit coat. An American flag lapel pin added a bit of visual intrigue to a classic campaign fit. Fairly basic and far from festive, the candidate’s fashion choices come in at number four.

3. Oktoberfest Hat

For being a spoof on the German festival Oktoberfest, there was a noticeable lack of traditional German attire. As such, the lone red alpine hat stood out among the otherwise bare crowd of heads. It wasn’t until the night was almost over that I finally met the owner of the traditional German hat. Leaning into my curiosity, I asked the man about the story behind his headwear as we waited for our free cookie dough cups – a major Vektoberfest perk. Acknowledging the inspiration behind the fall festival, the hat owner claimed the cap was a traditional German alpine hat and could think of no better opportunity to pull it out. Out of my top five fashion finds, number three may be the only one with even a remote chance of Hallmark wardrobe department approval.

2. Baby Yoda Ears

Coming in an incredibly close second to my top fashion find at Vektoberfest are, oddly enough, a pair of Baby Yoda ears. These little green lobes are one of the last things I would have expected to find at a campaign event or fall festival… or any location outside of Disney World or a Star Wars convention. My first encounter with the ears happened to be when they found their way onto GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s head, which temporarily added a fun element to Ramaswamy’s fourth-place fit. Later in the evening, I noticed the ears on the rightful owner’s head. Curiosity getting the best of me, I inquired about the story behind the Baby Yoda ears. I learned the Baby Yoda-loving woman found them at a Salvation Army Thrift Store, which makes this thrifty fashion find all the better.

1. Lena’s Homemade Shirt

I couldn’t help but notice the girl’s shirt from across the lawn. At this point, I was on a roll asking people about their Vektoberfest attire, so I approached and asked about her shirt. To paint a picture, the girl – Lena – was wearing a plain black t-shirt with a large, screen-printed photo of Vivek Ramaswamy and herself at a separate event. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that within the screen-printed photo, Lena was wearing another shirt with a different screen-printed photo of Ramaswamy and herself! I was floored. After driving over two hours with her grandfather, Lena was committed to getting another photo with the GOP candidate to make yet another shirt. Considering the time and effort that went into this fit, I do not think I could rank anywhere other than number one!


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