Want to party like the Germans without dropping some serious euros? You don't have to travel all the way to Munich to partake in the festivities. Dust off your beer steins (ahem, krugs) pick up some choice brauts, and let the hefeweizen flow, because Oktoberfest is upon us yet again.
The original Munich Oktoberfest dates back to Oct. 12, 1810, when a party was thrown to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. All of Munich's citizens were invited and they packed Theresienwiese, or "Theresa's Field," for a glimpse of the royal affair. Horse races that followed the wedding celebration marked the true start of the annual tradition, and the Agricultural Show is still part of the festivities today.
These days, locals and tourists alike congregate on die Wiesn (the lawn) for the modern Oktoberfests that are quite the enduring tribute to Bavarian culture. Oh, and did we mention beer? Yeah, there's lots of beer. One indisputable rule of Oktoberfest dictates that all the drafts served must originate from one of Munich's six breweries — Augustiner, Hofbräu Münchner, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Löwenbräu, and Spaten-Franziskaner. By the end of the 19th century, modest booths were replaced by grand beer halls to accommodate the increasing number of patrons, musicians, and entertainment.
While beer is undeniably the main event at Oktoberfest, the meaty, carb-loaded Bavarian fare provides some stiff competition. Weisswurst (seasoned veal or pork sausage), rotisserie chickens, sauerkraut, and potato pancakes, salad, and dumplings comprise just a taste of the Oktoberfest menu. Think it's a coincidence that sodium takes center stage? All that salt will have you shelling out more cash for the sudsy stuff.
This year the kegs were tapped at noon (German time, of course) Saturday, Sept. 21 and the last Mass isn't poured until last call on Oct. 6. If you are looking to party like the Germans do, you can host your own authentic Oktoberfest to join in the fun. All you need is the right beer, meats and a few styling tips to get down and dirty. So stock up on the schnitzels and get cracking. Prost!