September 4, 2005 in Travel

Bavarian benevolence abounds …

Richard Belson Special to Travel
File Photo photo

Colorful costumes and, of course, beer are a big part of Oktoberfest at Leavenworth.
(Full-size photo)

fun oktoberfest facts

Did you know?

•…that while October is the 10th month in the calendar, the “octo” means eight, as October was the eighth month in the old Roman calendar?

•…with 1 million attendees, Munich is the world’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, accounting for the demise of 800,000 wursts and sausages annually?

•…Cincinnati, Ohio, is host to North America’s largest Oktoberfest celebration? Each year, over 700,000 people flock to Cincinnati to enjoy the Bavarian festival.

•…even in Munich, the live Oompah bands are slowly being phased-out with recorded music?

•…while Oktoberfest began initially in October, the date of the 16-day festival was pushed up to start in mid-September because of Munich’s propensity for snow during October?

•…that in 1950, the mayor of Munich started the keg-tapping ceremony to mark the media-spectacle that opens the city’s Oktoberfest celebrations? The number of hammer blows each successive mayor takes to tap the keg weighs heavily on the public’s perception of him.

•…the first organized Oktoberfest in the United States was held in La Crosse, Wisc. on October 13-15, 1961, because the winter festivals were just too darn cold?

•…traditional Oktoberfest foods include Bratwurst, grilled chicken, barbecued fish and potato salad?

•…the only German tradition more popular on the international scene than Oktoberfest is the Christmas tree?

•…in 1871, a German law was passed that required a serving of beer to be at least 1 liter? The law is rarely upheld, with the average beer measuring 0.8 liter plus a good helping of foamy head…considered a sad loophole in the law, say some.

Oktoberfest History

The festivus we know today as Oktoberfest evolved from an early 19th century celebration originally held in Munich, Germany.

To commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (who later became King Ludwig I) to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildurghausen on Oct. 17, 1810, a grand party was held in a meadow just outside the Munich gates. Townspeople were invited to celebrate the marriage with mountains of food and, of course, a sea of Munich beer.

Though the horse races that were part of the original festivities have since been phased out of time-honored Oktoberfest activities, celebrations have occurred in Thereienweise meadow (named after the lovely Oktoberfest bride), since 1819.

One tradition that will always be part of Oktoberfest celebrations is beer, but it wasn’t until 1910 that the first consumption records were noted – 316,800 gallons of “Weis’n” beer were guzzled in Munich during the Oktoberfest. This number rose slightly in 2000, when 1.5 million gallons were consumed at the Munich festival alone.

The party gained in international popularity through the years and by 1960 the Munich location enjoyed 100,000 visitors. Each successive year since has seen an increase in participation, topping 6.9 million in 2000.

While old-world tradition, horse racing and Lederhosen aren’t as common in the transplanted Oktoberfest festivities around the Inland Northwest, savvy Oompah-practitioners will find jousting, yodeling, traditional Bavarian music and, most certainly, sausages and beer in plentiful supply at several locations throughout our celebration-ready area.

Oktoberfest Roundup

During the Oktoberfest season, finding a locale to partake in the consumption of traditional Bavarian food and drink is about as difficult as finding sales at Christmas time. Some die-hard fans of the festivities, however, may want to plan an Oktoberfest strategy with the following list of local events in order to maximize their appreciation of Bavarian culture, tradition and…good times!

If all else fails, however, just follow the sound of the yodeling and the trail of wobbly kneed beer fans…

Sept. 3-4 ~ Kimberley International Folk Festival and Oktoberfest. Downtown Platzl and Kimberley Curling Rink. Traditional Folk dancing, family activities and various venues for Oktoberfest refreshments In Canada’s Bavarian City in the Rockies. (250) 427-4916

Sept. 30-Oct. 2 ~ Latah Creek Oktoberfest – Enjoy wine and beer tasting at this local winery, as well as traditional Bavarian hospitality. Sept. 30-Oct. 2 ~ 5-8 p.m. — Oktoberfest Friday Night Party.Oct. 1 & 2 ~ All-day festivities at the winery — 13030 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane. (509) 926-0164

Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8 Leavenworth, Wash.~ Washington State’s own Bavarian City holds perhaps the states definitive Oktoberfest celebration over two weekends with live music, irreplaceable Bavarian atmosphere and a local vibe that breathes Oktoberfest. Live Music, Crafts, Bavarian clothing. Friday $5, Saturday $7. Leavenworth Festhalle, (509) 548-5847.

Oct. 1 Oompa-Fest ~ Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Free admission to the whole family for a day of live music and great Oktober-festivities. (800) 831-8810.

Oct. 1 ~ Sandpoint Oktoberfest ~ A 20-piece German band, huge German food buffet and beer at the Hidden Lakes Golf Resort starting at 4 p.m. 151 Clubhouse Way, Sandpoint, Idaho. (208) 263-1642.

Oct. 1~ The Spokane chapter of the German American Society holds an annual Oktoberfest celebration at the group’s Deutsches Haus center located at 25 W. Third Ave. $10 admission. (509) 325-1113 or (509) 443-1507

Oct. 1-2 ~ Northwest Renaissance Festival Annual Oktoberfest ~ This is a no-holds-barred Oktoberfest-o-rama. Jousting competitions, with scheduled performances by Thryce Wycked Wenches, Commeida del Amore show, The Peasant Show and much more geared for the whole family. NWRF, 6493 Hwy 291, Nine Mile Falls, Wash.

Oct. 7-8 ~ Spokane’s own Steam Plant Grill will hold its own version of Oktoberfest under their covered parking area, Oct. 8 from 5 p.m. to midnight and Oct. 9 from 3 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free 159 S. Lincoln St., Spokane. (509) 777-3900

Oct. 8 ~ Eastern Washington University Library Fundraiser Oktoberfest, Old West style ~ An annual event to raise money for the EWU library. Wine and beer tasting, auction, $30 regular admission, $15 with Student ID card. 6-10 p.m. at the JFK Library, 816 F St. Cheney. (509) 359-2264

Oct. 29 ~ Octobrewfest Spokane ~ A 21-plus event held annually to raise funds for the MS Society. Held at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. Because this is a fund-raiser, the MS Society will gladly accept auction items ahead of time to help raise money. 5:30pm. $12 in advance, $14 at the door. (509) 482-2922 or (800) 344-4867.

College Activity

The first week of October is always ripe with Oktoberfest festivities within the various colleges throughout the area. Most events are reserved for the students of each respective educational institution, so keep an eye on student calendars and activity boards. WSU’s Up All Night campus involvement organizes a yearly celebration of all things Oktoberfestian ( Spokane Falls Community College’s German Klub’s Oktoberfest celebration, while non-alcoholic in nature, is more than compensated for with its legendary spread of German gastronomical delicacies offered to students on a yet-to-be determined date during the first quarter. Last year’s was Oct. 23…so plan accordingly.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email