By Steve and Alison Ramsey
“Ozapft is!” exclaimed Munich’s Lord Mayor Christian Ude after opening the first keg of beer at noon on September 22, thus officially inaugurating the world famous German Octoberfest.
And following 16 days of beer, fun and Gemutlichkeit, the 2007 Munich Octoberfest closed its gates after 6.2 million people visited the biggest fair in the world.
This big city, with rural charm and friendly people, served 6.7 million glasses of beer, thousands of Hendl (chickens) and 104 oxen to the crowds that swarmed into the 14 large tents on the Octoberfest grounds right off of the Schwanthalerstrasse. As many as 10,000 people can be accommodated in some of the huge beer tents.
The tents, which sometimes appear more like buildings, are highly colorful, and are decorated with painted murals, clouds and more to make them attractive to the visitors, some of which spend all day inside!
A special Octoberfest beer, brewed by Munich’s six major breweries, is served in the tents. The delicious draught is usually served with radishes, Obatzta (special cheese), sausages, roast chicken or grilled fish. And barbecue beef is a Wiesn specialty.
This year, as many as 80 different firms offered fair guests samplings of their foods, and more than 200 attractions greeted fair-goers as well, such as breathtaking rides like the Olympia Loop or the Power Tower, the Krinoline (merry-go-round), the Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel), the Toboggan and even a variety show.
HISTORY OF THE FAIR
The wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig–later King Ludwig I of Bavaria–and Princess Theresa of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810, started the fair when the royal couple invited the people of Munich to celebrate in the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were named “Theresienwiese” in honor of the princess, and locals later abbreviated the name to “Wiesn.”
The annual Munich celebration starts off with a parade featuring festive carriages bearing the land-lords’ families, the horse-drawn drays of the Munich breweries, showmen’s coaches, waitresses on decorated floats and the beer tent bands. It’s quite a spectacle!
The following day the Munich Costume and Rifleman’s Parade features groups in traditional costumes, marching bands, troops of bandsmen and trumpeters, amateur and mountain riflemen. Performers of all kinds, decorated coaches and flower garlands are always main attractions of the parade. And the parade goes on even if the weather is bad!
ONE LAST WORD, AND A FAMOUS BREW
Of course, one of Munich’s famous trademarks is the 418-year-old Hofbrauhaus, where beer lovers gravitate throughout the year. It’s a fun establishment that holds up to 3,000 guests at the same time. The beer house even has its own beer, served, of course, at Octoberfest.
Stay tuned for more beer news. We had a great time in Munich, so it’s likely we’ll be back! Let’s see…when is next year’s fair?