Oktoberfest - A History, and Keeping the Tradition Alive in Southwest Florida
Tis the season for great beer and in the homebrew community we have packed every weekend full of festivals in which we get to taste each others brews. For a few of us there are opportunities to show off exactly what we have been tinkering with in our respective home brew places.
But where does Oktoberfest actually come from. Obviously it came from Munich, where it is considered the world's largest festival of any kind, but what is the history of this glorious event?
Oktoberfest traditionally starts in the third weekend in September and ends the first sunday of October.
What is Oktoberfest?
It began with the Royal Wedding on 12 October 1810.
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese ("Therese's Fields") to honor the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to "Wiesn". Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequent years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.
The Oktoberfest continues in 1811
In 1811, an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest - and at one time - the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.
More and more things to see and do
In the first few decades, the choices of amusements were sparse. In 1818, the first carousel and two swings were set up. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands, which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by the enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels offered was already increasing rapidly in the 1870's as the fairground trade continued to grow and develope in Germany.
Oktoberfest in Southwest Florida
Interested in what our local community does to celebrate the wedding of King Ludwig I, and Queen Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen??? Check out your local breweries! Every one of them is involved in a Oktoberfest of some sort, But what is equally as fun and close to home for us is Everglades Brewers Guild hosts an Oktoberfest every year. It continues to grow every year even as they limit tickets.