Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world that’s held each year in Germany. The festival is an 18-day celebration that is thrown usually from mid-September to the first weekend in October. As odd as it is that the festival isn’t solely during the month of October, people don’t seem to mind, over 6 million people travel from around the world to attend the festival.
Dating back to 1810, Oktoberfest is a big part of Bavarian culture; it began after the royal wedding of Kronsprinz Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The Munich residents then came together to partake in festivities and horse races on the fields in front of the city gates and that tradition has stuck ever since, however, people still debate over the origin of the festival.
The festivities back in 1811 were extremely different compared to modern day Oktoberfest activities. In the 1800s you would find festival attendees participating in tree climbing, bowling, swinging, parades, and horse races. Trying to preserve tradition but move along with modern times the festival now features carnival rides, beer tents, a “Steckerlfisch grilling, a chain swing and things like cotton candy and funnel cake stands. They also include a petting zoo and your ticket buys you a seat to watch the horse race, a tradition that never died.
I’ve never personally been to an Oktoberfest, but when I hear the term my mind immediately pictures Sam Adams and people downing pumpkin beer by the gallon. It seems many versions of Oktoberfest in America as you might guess, are “Americanized.” Many of the festivals in the US don’t offer the experience you would get if you traveled to the Germany Oktoberfest; that’s not true for all of them, but like most other Holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Munich traditions are no longer closely tied to the celebration. Instead you’ll see more advertisement about the different beer venders, corn hole tournaments, Weiner dog races (as Ogden Taproom in Wilmington NC features) and activities of those sorts. I suppose Weiner dog races sound somewhat like they could have been a historical tradition!
What are your thoughts on the Americanized version of Oktoberfest? Do you think we should carry on more of the traditional activities tied to the festival? Is it just a day to drink beer? Weiner dog races or tree climbing? I guess we can all agree on one thing… any day dedicated to drinking beer is a good day!
I want to go to the real Oktoberfest! I have never attended either an Americanized one or the original but a lot of the activities sound really fun. I would, of course, love to experience the original but I may have to seek out something closer to home this year. I am not a big beer drinker but even I can be enticed out of the house by wiener dog races. Thanks for the post!
Very interesting post! I found Oktoberfest’s origins interesting, and I hadn’t really heard of them before, besides the fact it’s a beer festival. I have gone to the Oktoberfest in Myrtle Beach, SC for the past couple years, and I can say it’s always fun with lost of activities to do. One of my good friends lives in Germany and she attends Oktoberfest there as well. Although in Germany, the festivities are a lot more grand, any opportunity to celebrate beer is a good one!
This is a great post! I have always wanted to go, maybe one day!! I think that it is a great way to bring people together and celebrate and have a good time. I think that an americanized one is for sure not as good as the original Octoberfest, but could definitely be something fun and different to experience!
I would love to go to Octoberfest once in my lifetime. I would go mainly for the beer. I have many brewers in my family, so I would just go purely for the beer taste testing. I would love to have heard some more about how beer got involved into Octoberfest.
My family background is German and I have heard many exciting stories about this event and would love to go to it! I enjoyed reading this post because it was insightful, great imagery and entertaining.
I actually heard about the wiener dog races here in Wilmington and I have to say that would be all I need to attend this event…and beer of course. Although it’s a nice thought to add some more traditional festivities here in america Im gonna go with unfortunately most people won’t care about anything but the beer.
This is a great article! I have heard many great things about Octoberfest and I found this article very interesting because I will admit that I thought all it consisted of was drinking beer. I now know that there are lots of other events happening and it is definately something on my bucket list!
Wilmington has a very Americanized Oktoberfest but I think it is more authentic that a lot of cities in the south. North Carolina has historically had a large population of Germans particularly in Wilmington and Charlotte. I like to think that some of the original traditions can be seen through the celebrations you see locally in Wilmington.