On October 12th, 1810, the Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen – and to commemorate the event, the citizens of Munich were invited to the front gates of the city to celebrate and join in the festivities. Food, drink, and horse races marked the day as one to be remembered… literally! The wedding celebration was such an enormous success – and the people enjoyed themselves so much – that the decision was made to repeat the festival every year, eventually giving rise to the Oktoberfest tradition.
The second year of Oktoberfest, in 1811, marked the addition of an Agricultural Show, which was created to boost awareness and publicity of Bavarian agriculture. There was little else to do at the early Oktoberfests – other than watch the horse races, look at agriculture, and drink – but in 1818, two swings and a carousel were added! Small beer stands were also becoming more prevalent, meaning that more people could afford to join in the festivities at a lower cost.
The first Oktoberfest parade took place in 1835, with the intention of honoring the original wedding that inspired the festival. It took awhile to catch on, however, as the concept of an annual parade didn’t really sink in until 1850. It was also in 1850 that the Statue of Bavaria was commissioned to watch over the festivities.
Over the next several decades, Oktoberfest would continue almost uninterrupted, but in 1854 and 1873, the festival was cancelled due to cholera outbreaks. There were also no festivities in 1866 while Bavaria fought in the Austro-Prussian War, and again in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. However, by 1880, there were over 400 tents and booths at the Munich festival – and in 1881, Oktoberfest attendees could purchase bratwursts at small food stands!
It was in 1892 that beer was first served in glass mugs, and by 1896, the small beer stands were so numerous that they had to be replaced by beer tents! Breweries began to sponsor the event, and large halls were set up and decorated by more affluent members of the local community. In 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th anniversary… and will mark its 200th anniversary in just a few years!
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