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)
brewery horses on parade
Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese's wedding, 1810
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
Munich's oldest townhouse, which first opened in 1340, is looking good once again. Visitors can inspect a small permanent exhibition that focuses on beers from Bavaria, including of course a documentary about Oktoberfest. To ensure that the museum is scholarly and not just a commercial excuse for opening yet another beer house, visitors are encouraged to taste the different beers and to eat the traditional foods. This Bier und Oktoberfest Museum, which first opened in 2005, is near Marienplatz.