Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 17, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. Horse races held in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the following year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest. The festival was eventually extended and then moved ahead to September to allow for better weather conditions.
The popularity of the festival has seen similar Oktoberfests spring up not just in Germany but in many other countries around the world with the biggest being in Canada, in the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo in Ontario. Oregon’s oldest and best-loved Oktoberfest began in 1966 as a traditional harvest festival to celebrate the bounty of the earth and the goodness of creation. The small community was settled by German pioneers in the 1800s and the area is reminiscent of the rich Bavarian countryside.
Nowadays the festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near the centre of Munich. Large quantities of beer are consumed at the Oktoberfest, which is supplied by 6 breweries who must make the alcohol within the city limits of Munich. Only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot, at a minimum of 13.5% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) may be served at Oktoberfest. Visitors can also enjoy a wide variety of traditional food such as Hendl, Steckerlfisch, Sauerkraut and Reiberdatschi. Apart from the main events in the tents there are also fairground rides and attractions for younger visitors.