Q: Why do the Oktoberfest celebrations take place in September? October is in the name, right? Prost!
A: The traditional German harvest celebration, Oktoberfest, begins the third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday in October. Elements of the festivities include beer, traditional German dress, parades, rides, music and more beer.
The first official Oktoberfest celebration was in October 1810 to commemorate when Bavaria’s crown prince was married. The groom would go on to become King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen was the blushing bride.
Original activities included a fair, horse race and parade. The festival lasted only five days.
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Festivities took place in the fields outside of the city gates of Munich. The location is now called “Therese’s meadow” or Theresienwiese.
Over time, Oktoberfest’s start date was moved forward to September to capitalize on warmer weather and the festival became larger.
According to organizers, Munich’s Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world. It has been canceled 24 times for cholera outbreaks and war. Millions of visitors each year flock to the “wiesn”, which is what locals call the Theresienwiese.
At the 2017 Oktoberfest, organizers say 6.2 million visitors drank 7.5 million liters of beer. The festival workers manning the food tents reported half a million roast chickens, 127 oxen and 57 calves were eaten.
Another interesting piece of Oktoberfest trivia are the items left behind after the celebrations are complete. Approximately 4,000 things make their way to the lost and found area of Oktoberfest each year.
Items range from the expected, keys and glasses, to the unexpected like dentures, a drinking horn and, once, a giant grasshopper.
Americans interested in attending Oktoberfest celebrations don’t have to travel to Munich to quench their thirst. Some of the largest Oktoberfests in the U.S. take place in Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.
Closer to home, Belleville’s Oktoberfest takes place Sept. 21-22 in downtown Belleville. Highlights of the local Oktoberfest include live entertainment, authentic German cuisine, a weiner dog race and costume contest, cornhole tournament and car show.