Bräurosl beer tent
By the next year, 1811, the programme was already starting to expand. An agricultural show was added to the horse race, I am assuming with an eye to boosting Bavarian agriculture. In 1816, carnival booths appeared; the main prizes beautiful decorative objects like jewellery. Swings, slides, merry-go-rounds and wheelbarrow races entertained the crowds. In time Munich’s town council took over management of the festival and in 1819, Oktoberfest became a formal and annual event. It was changed to September, I am guessing, because October is a bit too cool and a bit too unreliable, weatherwise.
Since 1850, a “wedding” parade has become a yearly event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. There is nothing quite as awesome as seeing 8,000 Bavarians in traditional costumes walking through the centre of the city. According to Daniel Wroe, real Lederhosen, the traditional Bavarian men's clothing, are still made from deer leather, not the cheaper cow leather. They last a lifetime and are often passed from father to son.
Oktoberfest musicians (Life Magazine)
Improvement followed improvement. In 1880, the electric light made the 400 booths and tents blaze brightly at night. In 1881, booths selling Bavaria’s favourite snack foods opened. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892. But the humble beginnings had long been inadequate; by the end of the 19th century, people wanted more sophistication, and much more space. The small booths were expanded into large beer halls and large groups of professional musicians were included in the entertainment. Tree climbing games were no longer the cultural highlight of the festival.
brewery horses on parade
In 1887 the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries began, a vast parade where the breweries competed with great teams of decorated horses and the Oktoberfest bands marched. This event always took place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and was used to mark the official opening of the festivities. In 1908, the festival built the first roller coaster found on German soil and best of all, in 1913, the huge Bräurosl opened for business. This was the largest Oktoberfest beer tent, holding some 12,000 revellers.
Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese's wedding, 1810
Only six Munich breweries - Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten -were formally sanctioned to serve beer at the festival. But for most people, that is enough. Luckily Oktoberfest beer steins were typically made from heavy glass, with a decorative brewery logo on the side, and big enough to hold a litre of beer! These days, once the beer has been consumed, steins can be purchased in the tents.
Over the decades the festival was occasionally cancelled, because of an epidemic sweeping the city or because German-French warfare had broken out. But mostly the tradition was so entrenched and so loved that it went ahead regardless. Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen would not recognise the Oktoberfest today. The city hopes this year to break both its visitor record of 7.1 million and its beer drinking record of 6.9 million litres.
One litre beer steins