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O'zapft is!

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By MacMurph
September 30, 2002

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O'zapft is!

This is the traditional shout of the mayor of Munich, after the first beer keg has been tapped, an act which officially opens the Oktoberfest, 'O'zapft is' is Bavarian slang for German 'es ist angezapft'. This year, our current mayor Christian Ude wasn't as successful as usual - he needed four hits on the handle until he finally tapped the first beer keg and the beer wasn't flowing at all. Hectic activities by the surrounding helpers were required to get the first full beer stein out of the huge barrel.

I waited the entire week after the opening, a week with very bad and cold weather here in Munich until I visited the Oktoberfest on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. The weather gods showed mercy and we had a gorgeous and warm autumn weekend.

This picture shows one of the main streets with the Bavaria Monument in the background, one of the landmarks of Munich with the huge crowd, the tents and the rides and attractions to her feet.

On Sunday, a big chapel concert was performed at the stairs under the monument and so the Bavaria, freshly renewed in the last months looked on a huge crowd of people at this bright and sunny autumn day.

The History

The  Oktoberfest or the Wiesn how we call it here is considered the biggest event of its kind in the whole world. Almost every years Wiesn sets another milestone for the amount of served beer, number of visitors, eaten chicken, Brezl's and all the other type of traditional bavarian food. About half a million visitors came the first day, on Saturday, September 21. 560.000 Ma� Beer were served that Saturday. (A 'Ma�' is the bavarian term for a beer stein with one liter of beer.)

It all began on October 12, 1810 with the wedding of the Bavarian crown Prince Ludwig (later known as King Ludwig, the first) to Princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen. Five days later, the National Guard organized a large public horse race on this huge field, later known as "Theresienwiese" or Therese's green. The intention was that the Bavarian folk could also join the wedding celebration and it was decided that the festival should be repeated at the same time the following years.

Since 1810, the Oktoberfest has been canceled 24 times because of World War I and II, because of the Inflation and a cholera epidemic in 1873.

Some Facts

It requires several months to construct and de-construct the 14 tents and various rides and attractions on Therese's green and there is only a short period of time when there is no activity on this Field.

(deserted Theresienwiese, January this year)

The Oktoberfest starts at 12:00pm on Saturday, September 21st with tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest beer. Even though its called "Oktoberfest", it starts in late September because at this time of the year the weather is usually much better in Munich than in October. The Oktoberfest ends October 6th.

The beer prize every year is always the subject of hefty discussions, this year it ranges from 6.30 Euro to 6.80 Euro. Much money for 1 Liter of beer and sometimes its less than a liter because there is more foam than beer in a stein. That was also the reason that many years ago, more and more people demanded that the beer is served in a glass stein instead of the so far used Clay maden stein - the Oktoberfest visitors were angry because they felt cheated.

Although the first day with fine weather started good, there were less visitors at the Oktoberfest this year because of the bad weather during the first week. After one week about 2 Million people have been visited the Oktoberfest, drinking 2.6 Million Ma� of Beer.

The Rides

The Oktoberfest also has the tradition that it hosts the State-of-the-Art rides and attractions available for a amusement park and we have always the most exiting, transportable rides like this roller coster here, with the name Eurostar:

The Giant Wheel is one of the biggest in the world with a height of 164 feet and a weight of 540 tons.

But there are also traditional, low-budget showmen with smaller but more traditional performances like this father-son casper theatre ..

or a curiosity cabinet, showing a woman without a head ...

The huge Beer Tents

It is one of the odd facts of the history of the Oktoberfest that the descendant of the Wiesn founder Kind Ludwig the first, Prince Luitpold from Bavaria, entrepreneur and Owner of a big Beer brewery is not allowed to have his own beer tent on the Oktoberfest. The number of beer tents is limited and the current tent proprietors have their tents on the Octoberfest since many years ago and they also have much influence, too and so they are not willing to step aside for new host, even though he is inheritor of a former king.

After I met my friend on Saturday at the Main Entrance (which was not easy in the huge mass of people) we were looking forward for something to eat heading and drink at the Augustiner tent.

On of the sad moments in Oktoberfest history happened 1980 at the Main Entrance - 13 visitors were killed in a bomb attack and over 200 were seriously injured.
 
(Memorial for the victims of the bomb attack)

One of the reasons that we were preferring Augustiner beer is that this Brewery serves the best beer here in Bavaria.

Although these 14 tents have a huge Seating Capacity which varies from 4200 seats in the Hippodrom to 9300 Seats available in the huge Schottenhamel tent, the Augustiner tent was already closed for guests. It was 3pm in the afternoon and the tent was closed because it was to overfilled! One of the reasons that none of the 6000 Seats inside wasn't available any more was that 16000 visitors from Italy invaded the Oktoberfest, which happens traditionally the second weekend.
 
(A crowd of guests in front of a locked door)

So, we two guys were looking for two seats outside where another 2000 seats are available.

(Outside the Augustiner tent)

Even though it looked hopelessly full we found two seats at a table which looked like it's already full but somehow we found space and after our first beer we were good friends with everybody at the table :)

I took the chance to look around my table and I saw a lot of typical faces from Bavaria. Despite of the fact that the Wiesn has visitors from around the world, 2/3 of all visitors are still from Bavaria itself.
 
(A bunch of true Bavarians)

This man wears a hat with a Gamsbart, which is a typical hat extension. The Oktoberfest is also the event where many Bavarians wear the National dress of Bavaria, which involves Lederhosen, traditional shirts and shoes and hats with these extensions.

(Hat with Gamsbart)

We sat there for a while with our new pals and decided to find a way inside in the tent because it was getting chilly, later in the evening. There was no way to get inside of the Augustiner tent, we tried without success at several doors. It doesn't matter if you have a reservation or not, if you left the tent for taking a ride on one of the attractions or if you are a new guest. If a tent its closed than its closed - no way to get in and there are guys from security to prevent anybody to get in, no matter of the reason. We tried.

It is an old but not well-known trick to try the tent of the brewery where not only in my opinion the beer is the worst. The Ochsenbraterei with its Spaten brew.

We made it to get into the tent and it looked anything else than deserted:

(Inside of the Ochsenbraterei)

You are not supposed to sit at these tables, in the evening mostly everybody in the tent does table dancing while the chapel plays happy sound and everybody sings and dances. Every Year, the Wiesn has it hits, this year its "Heeeyyy Baby! Hu ha I wanna knooohow if you can be my girl"

(Table dance)

You can encounter many odd people in a tent, this one looks like he is either from Italy or Transylvania ... :)

(Weird hats)

Our mood was good, dancing on a table with my old friends and the new ones but after a while I was getting tired. Sure I had two or three Ma� Beer already today but my reaction when getting two much alcohol is that I just get very tired. Other's don't react that way and so a lot of fights are in order, many people are getting so drunk that they have to get examined by the Red Cross and spent the night at a Red Cross tent to sleep over their hang-over. 

I made a still life of my last beer, called it a day, said Goodbye to my friends, took a cab home and got into my bed with the intent to come back for some more shots on Sunday and so some of the pictures shown here are from Saturday, and some are from Sunday.

MacMurph

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