Munich's Oktoberfest sets attendance record

4th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 October 2005, MUNICH, GERMANY - More than 6 million visitors attended Munich's 172nd annual Oktoberfest, setting a new record that somewhat made up for the fact that beer consumption was down this year, organisers said on Monday, the closing day of what is billed as the world's biggest beer party.

4 October 2005

MUNICH, GERMANY  - More than 6 million visitors attended Munich's 172nd annual Oktoberfest, setting a new record that somewhat made up for the fact that beer consumption was down this year, organisers said on Monday, the closing day of what is billed as the world's biggest beer party.

Analysts said record prices of more than USD 8 (EUR 6.5) per one-litre stein of beer contributed to making this year's fest-goers somewhat more abstemious at the 14 huge tents. Food consumption, meanwhile, was up this year.

Fewer than 6 million litres were consumed, compared to the average of one litre per visitor in past years.

Half a million grilled chickens and local fare such as pan-fried meat, sausages, and pfannakuacha - Bavarian dialect for a jam-filled pancake - helped the beer go down.

The festival had got under way September 18 with the traditional ceremonial tapping of the first barrel of beer in the Schottenhammel tent by the Mayor of Munich, Christian Ude. With three hits, the beer began to flow and the mayor was able to cry the time-honoured words "Ozapft is!" ("It is tapped!").

Twelve shots rang out to indicate to the other beer tents that beer may be served, while Bavarian state premier Edmund Stoiber quaffed the first litre.

Visitors to Munich's Oktoberfest paused briefly on September 26 to mark the 25th anniversary of a mystery-shrouded neo-Nazi bombing that killed 13 fest-goers and injured 215.

Survivors of the blast joined Mayor Ude in solemn ceremonies at the entrance to the fair. Ude placed a wreath at the site of the bombing at midday. A candlelight vigil was held in the centre of Munich Monday evening. A prayer service was held last week.

The commemorations come amidst lingering criticism of police handling of the investigation.

A self-avowed neo-Nazi identified as Gundolf Koehler set off 1.4 kilograms of TNT in a litter bin at the entrance to the Oktoberfest fairgrounds on September 26, 1980.

Koehler, who died in the blast, allegedly was distraught over having failed a university geology exam, blaming "Jewish academics".

But the case was never satisfactorily solved, and critics claim police overlooked evidence of a broad conspiracy. Eyewitnesses insisted Koehler had been talking furtively to several other persons immediately before the explosion.

The bombing was also linked at the time to the hotly contested campaign for the 1980 general election in West Germany which saw Munich-based conservative Bavarian strongman Franz Josef Strauss accuse incumbent Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of being soft on leftist urban guerrilla terrorists. Strauss lost the election on October 5.

In the wake of the bombing, Oktoberfest activities were suspended for a day. A memorial plaque now marks the spot. No public litter bins are located anywhere on the fairgrounds.

DPA

Subject: German news

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