Kronprinz (Crown Prince) Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy Royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's meadow") in honour of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the "Wiesn". To end the celebrations from the royal wedding on October 17, horse races, presumably thought to have been a repetition of the Scharlachrennen (Scarlet Race), which took place in the 15th century in front of the Karlstor and was part of the Jakobidult, were held in honor of the newlyweds. The idea was proposed by Andreas Micheal Dall’Armi, who was a major in the National Guard. It is reported that the origins of the horse races and Oktoberfest itself were proposals from a coachman, and sergeant in the National Guard, Franz Baumgartner. However, these origins of the festival are controversial. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

The fairground outside the city was chosen due to its natural suitability. The Sendlinger hill (today Theresienhohe) was used as a grandstand for 40,000 race spectators. The festival grounds remained undeveloped except for the king’s tent. The tastings of "Traiteurs" and other wine and beer took place above the visitors in the stands on the hill. Before the race started, a performance was held in homage of the bridegroom and of the royal family in the form of a train of 16 pairs of children dressed in Wittelsbach costumes, and costumes from the then nine Bavarian townships and other regions. This was followed by the punishing race with 30 horses on a 11,200-foot (3,400 meters) long racetrack, and concluded with the singing of a student choir. The first horse to cross the finish line belonged to the purported initiator Franz Baumgartner, who was presented with his gold medal by the racing champion and Minister of State, Maximilian Graf von Montgelas.

In 1811, a show was added to promote Bavarian agriculture. In 1813, the festival was canceled due to the involvement of Bavaria in the Napoleonic Wars, after which the Oktoberfest grew from year to year. The horse races were accompanied by tree climbing, bowling alleys, and swings and other attractions. In 1818, carnival booths appeared; the main prizes awarded were of silver, porcelain, and jewelry. The city fathers of Munich assumed responsibility for festival management in 1819, and it was decided that Oktoberfest be made an annual event. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward because days are longer and warmer at the end of September. The horse race continued until 1960, and the agricultural show still exists today and is held every four years in the southern part of the festival grounds.

To honour the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, a parade took place for the first time in 1810. Since 1850, the parade has become an annual event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. Eight thousand people — mostly from Bavaria — and dressed in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street through the centre of Munich to the Oktoberfest grounds. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl.

Since 1850, the statue of Bavaria has watched over the Oktoberfest. This worldly Bavarian patron was first sketched by Leo von Klenze in a classic style and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler romanticised and "Germanised" the draft. The statue was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller.

In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was completed. In 1854, the festival was cancelled after 3,000 residents of Munich died during a cholera epidemic. There was no Oktoberfest in 1866 because Bavaria was involved in the Austro-Prussian War. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War again forced the cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was cancelled due to yet another cholera epidemic. In 1880, electric light illuminated more than 400 booths and tents. In 1881, booths selling bratwurst opened and the first beer was served in glass mugs in 1892.

At the end of the 19th century, a re-organization took place. Until then, there were games of skittles, large dance floors, and trees for climbing in the beer booths. Organizers wanted more room for guests and musicians which resulted in the booths becoming beer halls which are still used today.

In 1887, the parade of the Oktoberfest staff and breweries took place for the first time. This event showcases the splendidly decorated horse teams of the breweries and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and serves as the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration.

In 1910, the 100th anniversary of the Oktoberfest was celebrated, and an estimated 120,000 litres of beer were consumed. Three years later, the "Bräurosl" was founded, which at that time was the largest pavilion to have ever been built, accommodating approximately 12,000 people. Due to World War I, the Oktoberfest was temporarily suspended from 1914 to 1918. Two years after the war, in 1919 and 1920, the Oktoberfest was replaced by the so-called "kleineres Herbstfest" (which can be translated as "small autumn celebration"), and in 1923 and 1924 the Oktoberfest was canceled due to heavy inflation. During National Socialism, the Oktoberfest was used as part of Nazi propaganda. In 1933, Jews were forbidden to work on the Wiesn. Two years later, the Oktoberfest's 125th anniversary was celebrated with all the frills. The main event was a big parade, with the slogan "proud city - cheerful country" that was meant to show the alleged overcoming of differences between social classes, and can be seen as an example of the regime's consolidation of power. In 1938, after Hitler had annexed Austria and won the Sudetenland via the Munich Agreement, the Oktoberfest was renamed to "Großdeutsches Volksfest" (German Empire folk festival), and as a showing of strength, the NS-regime transported people from Sudetenland to the Wiesn by the score.

During World War II, from 1939 to 1945, no Oktoberfest was celebrated. Following the war, from 1946 to 1948, Munich celebrated only the "Autumn Fest". The sale of proper Oktoberfest beer—2% stronger in Gravity than normal beer—was not permitted; guests could only drink normal beer. Since its foundation, the Oktoberfest has not been celebrated 24 times.

Beginning in 1950, the festival has always been opened with the same traditional procedure: A twelve-gun salute and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at 12:00 p.m. by the incumbent Mayor of Munich with the proclamation "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!" in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) officially opens the Oktoberfest. The Mayor then gives the first litre of beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. The first mayor to tap a keg was Thomas Wimmer.

Before the festival officially starts, parades are held with the traditional marksmen's clubs, beer-tent waitresses and landlords participating. Actually there are two different parades which both end at the Theresienwiese. They start around 9.45 a.m. to 10.50 a.m. The horse races ended in 1960.

 

By 1960, the Oktoberfest had become a world-famous festival. Since then, foreigners have predominantly photographed German men wearing their Sennerhut and Lederhosen, and the young women in their Dirndl.

During the Oktoberfest, the locals wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte), which contain a tuft of chamois hair (Gamsbart). Historically, in Bavaria chamois hair was highly valued and prized. The more tufts of chamois hair on one's hat, the wealthier one was considered to be. Due to modern technology, this tradition has declined with the appearance of chamois hair imitations on the market.

For medical treatment of visitors, the Bavarian branch of the German Red Cross operates an aid facility and provides emergency medical care on the festival grounds, staffed with around 100 volunteer medics and doctors per day. They serve together with special detachments of Munich police, the fire department and other municipal authorities in the service centre at the Behördenhof (authorities' court), a large building specially built for the Oktoberfest at the east side of the Theresienwiese, just behind the tents. There is also a station for lost & found children, a lost property office, a security point for women and other public services.
Since the 1970s, local German gay organizations have organized "Gay Days" at the Oktoberfest, which since the 21st century always begin in the Bräurosltent on the first Sunday.

To keep the Oktoberfest, and especially the beer tents, amicable for the elderly and families, the concept of the "quiet Oktoberfest" was developed in 2005. Until 6:00 pm, the orchestras in the tents only play quiet brass music, for example traditional folk music. Only after that may Schlager pop or electric music be played, which had led to excess violence in earlier years. The music played in the afternoon is limited to 85 Decibels. With these rules, the organisers of the Oktoberfest were able to curb the tumultuous party mentality and preserve the traditional beer-tent atmosphere.

In 2005 the last traveling Enterprise amusement ride of Germany, called the Mondlift, returned to the Oktoberfest.

Starting in 2008, a new Bavarian law was passed to ban smoking in all enclosed spaces open to the public, even those of the Oktoberfest. Because of problems enforcing the anti-smoking law in the big tents, an exception was granted to the Oktoberfest in 2008, although the sale of tobacco was not allowed. After heavy losses in the 2008 local elections, with the smoking ban being a big issue in political debates, the state's ruling party implemented general exemptions to beer tents and small pubs. The change in regulations was aimed in particular to benefit the large tents of the Oktoberfest: So, smoking in the tents is still legal, but the tents usually have non-smoking areas. The sale of tobacco in the tents is now legal, but is widely boycotted by mutual agreement. However, in early 2010, a referendum held in Bavaria as a result of a popular initiative re-instituted the original, strict, smoking ban of 2008; thus, no beer will be sold to people caught smoking in the tents. The blanket smoking ban did not take effect until 2011, but all tents instituted the smoking ban in 2010 in order to do a "dry run" in order to identify any unforeseeable issues. The major issue while the smoking ban is in effect is the nauseating stench of stale beer spilled on the floor, which the smoking had masked.

2010 marked the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. For the anniversary, a horse race in historical costumes was held on opening day. A so-called historische Wiesn (historical Oktoberfest) took place, starting one day earlier than usual on the southern part of the festival grounds. A specially brewed beer (solely available at the tents of the historical Oktoberfest), horse races, and a museum tent gave visitors an impression of how the event felt a century ago. In 2013, 6.4 million people visited Oktoberfest, and the festival served 6.7 million liters of beer.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary in 2010 a so-called Historisches Oktoberfest (Historical Oktoberfest) was designed on the site of the Central Agricultural Festival at the south end of the Theresienwiese. It opened one day before the official Oktoberfest with the traditional keg tapping by the Lord Mayor. The comprehensive five acres of fenced grounds presented historic rides, beer tents and other historical attractions such as a Steckerlfisch grilling, a chain swing and a cotton candy stand. Included in the price of admission, an animal tent and the racecourse could be visited next to the museum. The animal tent included, among other things, a petting zoo, and was managed by the Hellabrunn Zoo and the Bavarian Farmers Association. The Munich Stadtmuseum took over the design of the museum tent. The Oktoberfest anniversary was accompanied by an artistic and cultural program, in which for example the Biermösl Blosn (local entertainers) performed. The bands in the relatively small Herzkasperl Festzelt - offering 850 seats - had to do without electrical amplification. The fest-tent name derives from a famous stage character of the actor Jörg Hube, who died in 2009. The six Munich breweries Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten presented a special exclusively brewed dark beer, which was made after a historic recipe from the early 19th century. The beer mugs in the beer tents did not have the company logo of the breweries, but rather the inscription "Munich beer". Unlike the usual Oktoberfest, the Historic Wiesn closed at 8pm. Instead of the 300,000 guests estimated by the city council, well over half a million visitors came. The festival site had to be temporarily closed several times due to overcrowding. According to the Munich City Council Decision on October 16, 2012, the entry fee for the Historical Oktoberfest, now called Oide Wiesn (bavarian for old fairground), in 2013 was to be three euros again. For the first time a re-entry was possible with the tickets. The historic rides in 2013 required a 1 Euro fee. The musicians' tent increased the number of indoor seats from 1000 to 1,500. Outside, it increased seats from 800 to 1,000. The City of Munich supported the showman foundation with 200,000 €, so it could run a museum tent, a velodrome, as well as a children's program. In 2013, the terrain was enlarged and attractive entrances were added. According to a City Council decision there will be an Oide Wiesn in 2015 before the Central Agricultural Exhibition claims the locations again on the Theresienwiese in 2016.

THE BEGINNING OF THE PARTY

The story of the entry of the Oktoberfest restaurateurs and breweries for the opening of the Oktoberfest began in 1887, when the then manager, Hans Steyrer, first marched from his meadow to the Tegernseer Landstrasse with his staff, a brass band and a load of beer to the Theresienwiese. In its current form, the parade has taken place since 1935, where all the breweries first took part. Since then, the parade is led by the Münchner Kindl, followed by the incumbent lord mayor of Munich in the Schottenhammel family carriage since 1950. Which is then followed by the decorated horse carriages and floats of the breweries and the carriages of the other restaurateurs and showmen. The music bands from the beer tents accompany the parade.

Beer barrel tapping

After the parade of the restaurateurs on carriages from downtown to the festival grounds, at exactly 12:00 clock the lord mayor opens the first beer barrel in the Schottenhammel tent. With the initial pass and the exclamation "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!") the Oktoberfest is declared as opened. Twelve gunshots are then fired on the stairway of Ruhmeshalle. This is the signal for the other restaurateurs to start with the serving of beer. Traditionally, the Bavarian Minister-President is served the first liter of beer. Then in the other tents, the first barrels are tapped and beer is served to the visitors. Every year, visitors eagerly await to see how many strokes the mayor needs to use before the first beer flows. Bets are even made. The best performance is still two strokes (Christian Ude, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; Dieter Reiter, 2015), and there was also 19 strokes required (Thomas Wimmer, 1950).

Costume and riflemen parade

In honor of the silver wedding anniversary of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese, a traditional costume parade took place in 1835 for the first time. In 1895, the Bavarian novelist Maximilian Schmidt organized another parade with 1,400 participants in 150 traditional costume groups.[ Since 1950, this parade is organized annually and has become one of the highlights of the Oktoberfest and one of the worlds largest parades of its kind. On the first festival Sunday, 8000 participants march in the parade in their historic festival costumes from the Maximilianeum on a seven kilometer stretch to the festival grounds This parade is also led by the Münchner Kindl; followed by notables of the city council and the city administration and the state of Bavaria, usually the minister-president and his wife, traditional costume and rifle clubs, musical bands, marching bands, flag-wavers and about 40 carriages with decorated horses and carts. The clubs and groups come mostly out of Bavaria, but also from other German states, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy and other European countries.

Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot, and brewed within the city limits of Munich, can be served at the Munich Oktoberfest. Beers meeting these criteria are designated Oktoberfest Beer. Veteran bartenders take a mere 1.5 seconds to fill up a litre stein.

The breweries that can produce Oktoberfest Beer under the aforementioned criteria are:

  • Augustiner-Bräu
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner
  • Spatenbräu
  • Staatliches Hofbräu-München

Oktoberfest Beer is a registered trademark by the Club of Munich Brewers, which consists of the above six breweries.

The Oktoberfest is known as the largest Volksfest (People's Fair) in the World. In 1999 there were six and a half million visitors to the 42 hectare Theresienwiese. 72% of the people are from Bavaria. 15% of visitors come from foreign countries like the surrounding EU countries and other non-European countries including the United States, Canada, Australia and East Asia.

Besides the Oktoberfest, there are other public festivals that take place at the same location. In April/May it's the Munich Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) and Tollwood Festival in December with 650,000 visitors.

After the Oktoberfest the next largest public fairs in Germany are the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart with about 4.5 million visitors each year, the Cranger Kirmes in Herne (Wanne-Eickel) (the largest fair in Northrhine-Westphalia) with 4.4 million visitors, the Rheinkirmes in Düsseldorf (called largest fair on the Rhine) and the Freimarkt in Bremen (the biggest fair in northern Germany) with over 4 million visitors per year each. Also noteworthy is the Schützenfest Hannover, the world's largest marksmen's Fun Fair in Hannover with over 1 million visitors per year.

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Article from the link
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oktoberfest
 

 
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