It's almost time to party. If you have never attended an Oktoberfest, it is time you should do it. Each year on the last week in October, I head for Helen, Georgia. It's about a hundred miles north of Atlanta. If you have plans to go this year, you need to get booked in lodging today. You will enjoy the German music, food and dancing
OKTOBERFEST! It's the German word for fun! Well, that may not be the actual translation, but to the folks attending Helen's Oktoberfest every year it may as well be.
The first "Oktoberfest" took place on October 12, 1810: For the commemoration of their marriage, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (namesake of the Theresienwiese festival grounds) organized a great horse race (the marriage took place on October 12, the horse race on October 17, therefore there are different dates named as being the first Oktoberfest).
The first 100 years
In the year 1813, the Oktoberfest was called off as Bavaria was involved in the Napoleonic war. In 1816, carnival booths appeared. The main prizes were silver, porcelain, and jewelry. In 1819, The town fathers of Munich took over festival management. They decided that the Oktoberfest should be celebrated every year without exception. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward. The reason being that the end of September in Bavaria often has very good weather. The high temperature in the first week of Oktoberfest nears 30 °C which stimulates the thirst of the visitors. However, today the last week of Oktoberfest is still in October.
In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was finished.
The war years
From 1914 through 1918, World War I prevented the celebration of Oktoberfest. In 1919 and 1920, the two years after the war, Munich celebrated only an "Autumn Fest." In 1923 and 1924, the Oktoberfest was not held due to inflation.
In 1933, the Bavarian white and blue flag was replaced with the standard swastika flag. From 1939 to 1945, due to World War II, no Oktoberfest took place. From 1946 to 1948, after the war, Munich once again celebrated only the "Autumn Fest." The sale of proper Oktoberfest beer was not permitted; the guests had to make do with beer that had an alcohol content under 2%.
Since its beginnings the Oktoberfest has thus been canceled 24 times due to war, disease and other emergencies.
The modern festival
Since 1950, there has been a traditional festival opening: A twelve gun salute and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at 12:00 by the current Mayor of Munich with the cry "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!" in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) opens the Oktoberfest. The first mayor to tap the keg was Thomas Wimmer.