Ode to Oktoberfest

Germany's famous party rocks on in 2006.

Germany's famous party rocks on in 2006
Part 1 of a 3-part series.

Oktoberfest, the world's biggest festival, actually takes place in September. (That's because the weather is better.) This southern German cultural celebration runs from September 16 to October 3 in beautiful downtown Munich on the Theresienwiese (Theresa's fields).

The Oktoberfest is the continuation of a royal wedding that took place 196 years ago. That's when Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, later to become King Ludwig I of Bavaria, married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The royal couple invited the good burghers of Munich to share in the festivities with a huge party that included a horse race held on the fields in front of the city gates. There was also plenty of beer. After all, this was Munich, the biggest city in Bavaria, the heart of German beermaking and drinking then and today.

The festival continued through the years, adding an agricultural show, an amusement park and huge, tented beer

 Oktoberfest tent

 Oktoberfest tent

halls. Today, all the Munich brewers (and, by law, only the Munich brewers) set up tents and serve huge liter steins of their beer. The barmaids who handle several of these at once are amazingly strong.

At the 2005 Oktoberfest, over six million visitors were able to choose one of 100,000 seats at 14 different beer tents. They drank 1,585,032 gallons of beer and ate 481 "units" of chicken, 179,889 pairs of pork sausages, 560,089 "units" of pork knuckles and 95 oxen. These same people spent 955 million Euros and lost about 4,000 items, including 260 pairs of glasses, 200 mobile phones, a wedding ring and two crutches. They even spilled a little beer.

Read on: Two beer gurus give us an up close look from the front lines of Oktoberfest.

Click here for part 2 of the series.
Click here for part 3 of the series.






Gregg Glaser is editor in chief of Yankee Brew News and the news editor for All About Beer Magazine, as well as freelance writer for many publications.

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