Ozapft is’ at the Oktoberfest
TWIG - The 171st annual Oktoberfest kicked off in Munich last Saturday (September 18) following a traditional parade through the city to the sprawling Theresienwiese fairgrounds. At the end of the 16-day festival, an estimated 6 million people from around the world will have visited the largest folk festival in the world.
In the festival’s famed Schottenhammel tent, Munich Mayor Christian Ude needed three hits to tap the first keg of frothy beer, equaling his record for the past two years. He declared "Ozapft is’!" (The keg is tapped!) to nearly 6,000 anxious beer guzzlers and a group of prominent guests, including Bavarian Minister President Edmund Stoiber.
This year’s Oktoberfest, though physically smaller in size than in previous years, is expected to break records. On the first weekend alone, glorious weather attracted nearly a million people to the beer tents and the carnival outside. Altogether, 560,000 liters of beer and nine oxen were consumed in the festival’s first two days.
Throughout the decades, the Oktoberfest snowballed from a modest celebration of the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen into a frolicking beer bash that has made Bavaria synonymous with beer.
In addition to the six Munich breweries invited to the
festival each year, Oktoberfest is serviced this year by 591 businesses,
among them 185 exhibitors and 74 food service vendors. It employs nearly
12,000 people and generates some 1bn Eur ($1.2 billion) for the local
On the right Tracht
After years of being viewed as old-fashioned or worse yet, just plain lame, traditional Bavarian clothing is back in full force - and it seems that its greatest supporters are teenagers.
The term "Tracht" refers to the aproned Dirndl dresses and the Lederhosen worn by both men and women that have made the leap from kitschy festival fare to year-long trend.
It can’t hurt that a number of German celebrities such as Oliver Kahn and Verona Feldbusch have aligned themselves as friends of Volk.
Because authentic "Tracht" comes at a price that few can afford, most of the costumes purchased are worn for a lifetime. Cheaper knock-offs have sprung up across the board, and some Tracht manufacturers are even noticing that youth are incorporating elements of tracht into their daily wear.
"People want something different, something fun and
something with a bit of history," Heinrich Weber told the city paper Munich
Found. Weber heads up the men’s Tracht department at the local high-end
retailer Loden Frey. "What could be better than Tracht? It’s flattering,
easy to wear and instills the kind of pride in the wearer that no other item
of clothing can do," he said.
Fake beer coupon ring apprehended
All of the beer-swilling revelry could not be dampened by the discovery of a ring of criminals who had intended to sell nearly 30,000 fake coupons, worth a liter of beer each.
Police traced the coupons to the former Yugoslavia, where two men had printed them and then sold them to middlemen for 3 Eur each. They in turn hawked them for 5 Eur to beer-swillers in the tents - at a savings of 2 Eur off the actual price.
Those who took the men up on their offer might have been responding to yet another price hike this year, which had each "Mass" of beer costing 7,10 Eur ($8.72), up almost half a euro from last year.
The local police couldn’t confirm that all of the fake tickets had been found because the ring had infiltrated three of the six brewery tents. All in all, it could mean a loss as big as 400,000 Eur ($490,000) for Bavaria’s biggest breweries.
Oktoberfest Director Geabriele Weishaupl was shocked by the developments. "This is my 20th Oktoberfest - and we’ve never seen criminal activity of these proportions," she told the German news agency DPA.
Most of the legitimate beer coupons are bought by local
companies for their employees.
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