Especially drunk patrons are often called "Bierleichen" (German for "beercorpses"). They are brought by staff to a medical tent where drunks as well as sick people are treated. To make the Oktoberfest, and especially the beer tents, once again friendly to older people and families, the concept of the "quiet Oktoberfest" was developed in 2005. Until 6:00 PM, the tents only play quiet music, for example traditional wind music. Only after that will Schlager and pop music be played, which has led to more violence in earlier years. The music played in the afternoon is limited to 85 decibels. With these measures, the organizers of the Oktoberfest hope to curb the over-the-top party mentality and preserve the traditional beer tent atmosphere.
The 4,000 or so items that are lost each year by the beer-chugging masses wind up in the city's Central Lost and Found, neatly categorized by object type and manufacturer. Before you go toasting German efficiency, be warned that to get those goods back, you'll have to offer up 5% of the value of the item.
The German Oktoberfest is a 16 to 18 day beer festival, usually beginning in late September and running through early October. This year it is from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. Next year, it will run from Sept. 22 to Oct. 7.
Oktoberfest is also a time for lively dances such as the Chaffler Tanz or Cooper's Dance. This 500-year-old dance is performed by coopers (barrel or keg makers) who dress in traditional lederhosen (short leather pants) and stomp their feet and slap their knees, thighs and boots to the rhythm of the music.
Another dance is the Ente Tanz (Duck Dance). In America, the Ente Tanz is known as the Chicken Dance. Cincinnati's Oktoberfest is the site of the world's largest Chicken Dance in which thousands of visitors joui in flapping their arms and twisting their bodies along to the music.
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 current Mayor of Munich with the cry "O'zapft is!" opens the Oktoberfest. The first mayor to tap the keg was Thomas Wimmer.
In 1870 the Oktoberfest could not take place due to the French-German war. And 1873 was not a year to celebrate, either: the cholera had broken out in Munich. But in the years to come, the attractions of the Oktoberfest kept getting more and more exotic: 1879 the organizers of the fair presented an African tribe, 1880 (the first year that electric light was used at the Oktoberfest) you could marvel at a group of wax figures. In 1881 the biggest chicken rotisserie in the world opened on the fair grounds. Finally, in 1892 visitors could drink their beer out of the famous 1-liter glass mugs for the first time.
In 1887 lederhosen and dirndls became the traditional garb of the attendees. The fest traditionally begins with a parade, starting just before noon. Included are the mayor and other civic leaders, followed by horse-drawn brewer’s carts, bands, and townspeople wearing their costumes. The parade ends at the oldest private tent at Oktoberfest, the Schottenhammel tent where the mayor opens the first keg of beer and the toasting begins. More than 7,000,000 people attend the opening ceremonies.
The people from Munich wanted to have a little fun, too. 1818, the first carrousel and two big swings were set up. In addition, there finally were some beer counters. But the people wanted more: 1896 the first of the huge beer tents were started as a joint venture of their proprietors and different breweries. Until today only breweries from Munich are allowed to sell beer on the Oktoberfest. There were also more carrousels and swings, and soon people could buy food, too.
Oktoberfest began on 12 October 1810 with the marriage of the Bavarian King, Max Joseph who later became King Ludwig I. His marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen was celebrated in Bavaria. On October 17, five days after the marriage, a large fest was held in front of the Sendlinger Tor, one of the gates leading to Munich. Included in the festivities were horse races that became an Oktoberfest custom lasting until 1938. In 1811 an agricultural fair was added and by 1818 beer pubs were included along with performers. It became a great tourist attraction and a way for visitors to learn about Bavaria and its people.
It attracts millions of people from Germany and all over the world. In fact, it is referred to as the largest Volksfest (or People’s Fair) in the world. Best of all, the festival is free to visitors. And those millions of people are all there to do two things — eat and drink. Today’s Oktoberfest is all about the beer and the food.