No room left as Oktoberfest opens for business
Tents filled up early, as usual, with joyful revelers.
Munich -- Several of the main beer tents at Oktoberfest in Munich were declared full, with no one else allowed in, just before the annual event was ceremonially opened on Saturday.
Performing one of the great rituals required of the mayor of Munich, Christian Ude plunged a tap into the first barrel of beer on the stroke of noon, poured a stein of ale for waiting Bavarian Premier Guenther Beckstein and declared the fest open.
As riflemen fired 12 volleys echoed over the fairgrounds in dry weather, drinkers in the packed tents cheered and took their first mouthfuls of Oktoberfest beer.
Orderlies keep a close watch on crowd sizes, refusing to admit more people than licensed to the beer tents, which are run by major breweries.
Attendance on the 16 days of the fest up to Oct. 5 was forecast at 6 million, with many visitors driving up from Italy or flying in from the United States and Australia.
More than 300 police have been assigned to keep order.
The fest site, a short distance from Munich's city center, comprises huge beer tents and beer gardens for the drinkers, a funfair for the teenagers and an agricultural show for Bavarian farmers.