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The History of Oktoberfest

The original Oktoberfest is a festival that is held every year in Munich, Germany .

The festival is about traditional Bavarian German celebration with German food specialties and of course Beer. , Traditional music and dancing, but also carnival style rides. Unlike other festivals much of the action occurs in huge tents that hold thousands of people where there are bands that play Oom Pah style music and other sprited tunes that makes you want to dance.

In Germany and especially Bavaria the Oktoberfest is known as the Theresienwiese roughly means Therese's Meadow or lawn or fairgrounds in this case.
Pronounced ...sort of like ....Tear-REESian-visa... for the American tongue. They also shorten it to just ...Wiesn.

More Oktoberfest terminoligy here


When was the first Oktoberfest? The first Oktoberfest was celebrated in Munich in 1810 The festivities began October 12, 1810, and lasted nearly a week until October 17.

A painting of the first Oktoberfest in Munich



The first Oktoberfest in 1810. If you look close in the center it is a
horse race that was the main event. There was also an agricultural show


Why was the Oktoberfest started?

In honor of Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
on Oct 12 1810. 5 days later the prince organized a horse raise and festivities for all.

King Ludwig

Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.


Here is a picture from 1850 when Ludwig had the Bavarian Statue that still stands today was inaugurated.


When does the Oktoberfest traditionally start?

Since 1950, there has been a traditional festival opening: A twelve gun salute and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at 12:00 by the incumbent Mayor of Munich with the cry "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!" in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) opens the Oktoberfest. The mayor then gives the first beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria.

The Mayor tapping the keg.

Here is a great video of the Mayor if Munich tapping of the first keg
at the Munich Oktoberfest.



The Oktoberfest always begins with parades, that start on opening day in Munich and goes out to the Festival grounds.This is a parade of the "Landlords and the Breweries" ,

Why is Beer so popular at Oktoberfest?
The common thought is that beer became so popular in Germany because the drinking water was so bad a
and one feared cholera or disease. Most bad germs were killed during fermentation so beer was the safe beverage to serve adults and kids! It was also considered healthy and a good source of calories.

Ready to serve beer at the 1928 Oktoberfest.



The Waitress in German is called (die) Kellnerin

a waiter is a called (der) Kellner.

The must be very resilient to deal with drunk patrons but also strong to hold up to 12
Bierkrüge holding a liter each of beer. (called a Mass)

(more Oktoberefest Vernacular)

This is the Entrance to the Oktoberfest in Munich

Inside are rides, booths with foods and games and the large Beer tents ( Festzelt) that hold up Thousands of people.

Get a better picture here, of how big the grounds are and the beer tents

What are some of the most popular foods at Oktoberfest?


Weisswurst with the
Sweet whole grain mustard is traditional
Bavarian fare and also for the Oktoberfest.

Often served with a Brezel (Pretzel)

The Weisswurst is heated and served in a bowl of hot water. The cooked Weisswurst is heated this way and never boiled.


Munich style Roasted Chicken


From the early days this has been a popular Oktoberfest food. You are served a half chicken usually with some sides, like Pomme Frits or red cabbage and dumplings.


( Special Bavarian Pretzel)
Soft Baked Pretzel Recipe


Laugenbrezel is a pretzel that has a special prepared. These large ones use as much dough as a loaf of bread!



This is one of the iconic Oktoberfest dishes.

a whole pork hock
roasted with the skin and making it crispy.



Fish on a Stick


One dish that is not commonly talked about in the Munich Oktoberfest is
Steckerlfisch (Fish on a stick).The fish (usually Mackerel) is skewered on a stick lengthwise so it
can be tilted over the fire and the fat runs down the stick instead of into the fire.

Still is a very popular food at the Oktoberfest, they are put the fish (usually Mackerel)
on a stick lengthwise so that it can be angled over the fire and the fat
will run down the stick instead of over the fire.


One thing that hasn't changed is "Man Down"
Especially drunk patrons are known as "Bierleichen" ,
or beer corpses.


Oktoberfest 1957


View more of Oktoberfest history in the 50's and 60's

This is some kind of a game at a mid century Oktoberfest.
Any guesses how what the prize is?



Links and Resources

Bavarian Getaway

Time Magazine,,5968160,00.html



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