Raising A Glass To Oktoberfest

The first Oktoberfest was held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany in 1810. Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese on October 12 and invited the citizens of Munich to celebrate with feasting, a parade, and horse races on the fields outside the town walls. The event was so enjoyable, it was repeated the next year.

Over time, the festivities came to include, besides the horse races and the parade, tree climbing, swings, bowling, and carnival booths. In 1832, a Greek delegation came and was inspired to put on the Zappas Olympics, which became our modern Olympic games.

The ceremonial keg-tapping is held at noon, precisely. The mayor of Munich taps the first keg and declares, “It’s tapped.” Twelve shots are fired, signaling the other beer halls that it’s time to begin serving. People take bets on how many swings of the hammer the mayor will need to tap the keg (so far, that number ranges from two through nineteen).

In Leavenworth, Washington Oktoberfest is held on the first three weekends of October. This year, that’s October 4 and 5, 11 and 12, and 18 and 19. Admission is $10.00 for Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight and $20.00 for Saturday from noon to 1 a.m. Children under twelve are free with an adult but, like all minors, must leave the grounds by 9 p.m. Active and retired military receive free admission; just show your military ID. Remember, that’s just the admission fee. You’ll get a bracelet; don’t lose it. Food and drink tickets are sold separately. You can’t bring in your own food or beverages. The admission fee is cash-only, but you can get food and drink tickets with a credit card.

The Keg-Tapping Ceremony is held at the Festhalle on each Saturday at 1 p.m. It’s preceded by a procession and is followed by music from the Musikkapelle Leavenworth. The parade is led by the Muenchener Kindl in Bavarian folk costume, and includes a band wagon with the Musikkapelle playing polkas and marches, then comes the Edelweiss Tanz Gruppe and the Bavarian-style Bier Wagon. The mayor and other dignitaries also ride in horse-drawn wagons. Once inside, get your food and drink tickets. Four venues offer food, drink, and non-stop live entertainment. The four venues are the Festhalle, the Bier Stube, the Tanz Halle, and the Spass Platz, which is only open on Saturday. You can move from one venue to another.

Bands from across the US, from Canada, and from Germany will play at the various venues (schedule). Other entertainment includes music at the Park Gazebo and L-Bow the clown on Front Street on Saturday at the Kinderplatz, where you’ll find other child-oriented information such as a climbing wall and bouncy toys.

Besides the beer, you can purchase brats, with or without coleslaw and beans; pork ribs; turkey legs; pulled pork sandwiches; hamburgers; or veggie burgers. For dessert, try German cake with whipped cream, or apple strudel, or a root beer float.

We invite you to share your Oktoberfest experiences on the Eagle Leather Facebook page.