Way back in 1810 Kron Prinz Ludwig married Princess Therese in a meadow outside Munich. The people of that city were invited to join in the festivities. We still celebrate this wedding around the world today with Oktoberfest.
Ground zero for this mega beer bash is still in that same location now known as Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow). This year the volksfest runs from September 18th until October 3rd. Typically about 6 million people attend this event but this year it has been cancelled due to the pandemic.
What goes on at the fest? It is like a giant state fair without the apple pie contest. There are carnival rides that take people upside down and around at break-neck speed, food vendors galore and of course the main event; BEER! The fest starts with a parade of the 6 historic breweries of the city. Hop flower clad draft horses pull giant wagons of “beer bigwigs” and the prized kegs of beer. The streets leading to the fest grounds are lined with onlookers cheering the procession. Oh yes, of course there are brass bands playing traditional Bavarian music. Once a cannon signals the tapping of the first keg the festivities begins. And believe you me, there are festivities!
Each brewery has its own tent and these large tents hold thousands of people. Tickets to the tents are secured by lottery or in some cases they are a legacy passed down from generation to generation. I’ve had the honor of being invited to the Haufbrau House Tent twice in the past and my seat in the balcony allowed for a full view of this mega-party. You get to stay in the tent for 4 hours and your ticket gets you two VERY LARGE glasses of beer and a meal of ½ chicken that has been cooked on a rotisserie. But my favorite is the Bavarian Pretzels. Pretty young women in dirndls and handsome young men in lederhosen circulate around the tent selling pretzels and cookies and other snacks. It is a noisy cacophony of fun!
Out in the grounds of the fest, families buy fruit dipped in chocolate. My favorites are strawberries and raspberries. The gastronomic feast includes brats and sandwiches of mackerel and salmon. Small pancakes called flammkuchen topped with cream cheese and green onions and all manner of roasted nuts with or without sweet toppings. And of course schnitzel and kraut, pickles and white radishes that have been spun through a spiralizer. And yes, there is even a wine tent where you can get a smooth Dornfelder or a crisp Riesling.
Hopefully the fest will continue in years to come, I know that I would love to attend this giant hoot of a party one more time.
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