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End to Oktoberfest marred by crowd chaos

The Local · 4 Oct 2010, 16:30

Published: 04 Oct 2010 16:30 GMT+02:00

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Police in the Bavarian capital told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that during the annual autumn festival’s final weekend they observed an “unprecedented flow of visitors” not only on the Wiesn, but also in the city’s streets.

On Sunday, beer tents, beer gardens in the area, and the special historical area set up in honour of the anniversary had to be closed for several hours due to overcrowding.

Oktoberfest organiser Gabriele Weishäupl told the paper the festival visitors, which police estimated to be as many as 800,000 on Saturday, had “spilled over.”

“There’s no longer a folksy mood,” she said.

On Sunday morning the historic Wiesn area was packed within 45 minutes, and the entrance was closed by noon.

Meanwhile visitors were told via radio to expect long waits, and by 4 pm on Saturday the festival grounds were so full that revellers were requested at nearby tram, bus, and metro stations to abstain from making their way there at all, the paper reported.

But it was mostly locals, and not tourists, who filled beer benches as the festival drew to an end. But many family outings ended at metro and commuter train stations because trains were so full.

The jam-packed atmosphere frayed tempers, according to the reported number of assaults with the festival’s famous one-litre glass beer mugs. In 2009, police logged 38 such assaults, but this year there were more than 60, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

One man reportedly lost his sight in one eye after being bludgeoned with one of the large mugs by an unknown assailant as he waited to use the bathroom this weekend, the paper said.

But one unfortunate rumour – that the special anniversary beer brewed for the historic Wiesn had run out – is thankfully false.

Organisers told the paper the high-alcohol content brew will likely hold out until festivities end on Monday night.

Some 6.4 million guests from around the world downed 7 million litres (1.6 million gallons) of beer at this year’s festival, Weishäupl told reporters on Monday afternoon.

They also ate 117 oxen, 59 calves and thousands of chickens, she added.

However, the record number of visitors - 7.1 million in 1985 - remains unbeaten, despite the fair being extended by two days for the jubilee.

Story continues below…

While this is the 200th anniversary of the beer fest, it is only the 177th edition, as the event was cancelled during two cholera outbreaks and World Wars I and II as well as economic and political crises.

The Local/AFP/ka

Munich's Oktoberfest runs from September 18 until October 4 this year. A special historical area offering old carousels, special beer and other attractions will open one day earlier for the 200th anniversary celebrations.

Sponsored link: Travelling to Oktoberfest? Get there with Deutsche Bahn.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:35 October 4, 2010 by freechoice
with a crowd like this, who are afraid of terror alerts in Europe by some 'western' intelligence?
14:39 October 4, 2010 by domiDDD
They also ate 117 oxen, 59 calves and thousands of chickens, are´nt calves baby cows?
16:15 October 4, 2010 by DinhoPilot
.... must be quite hard to fit so many drunks in a train...
18:29 October 4, 2010 by Bundeskanzler Brandt
Our car club just had a nice rally down to Wm Randolph Hearst's estate in San Simeon (California) , and we attended a local Oktoberfest organized by those "Cambria" Germans. There were about 300 there. A bit fewer oxen eaten but I did have a Bratwurst and Pauliner beer.

While I was in the Army in Germany so many years ago I considered going to the "larger" Oktoberfest but decided against it for crowds, accommodation, etc.

Sometimes, I believe, a popular event becomes so popular that the event loses the reason for fun and frivolity.
21:49 October 4, 2010 by Motorhead
Willi Brandt,

Not sure when you were stationed in Germany, but in the 80s, it was relatively tame (crowds not bad), and the doors to the fest tents 'might' be closed on a Saturday evening. But now, and even though I still go every year, the place is mobbed, even though I am amazed that I can still get two seats in or outside of the Augustiner tent for a quick Mass. I reckon the availability of the discount airlines have made traveling to O'fest and other festivals so much easier which, of course, add to the crowd scene.

Paulaner is good beer...glad you could get some in CA.
22:17 October 4, 2010 by wxman
It's one of those things. The more fun an event is, the more people show up to mess it up. It's just the way it is.
22:57 October 4, 2010 by volkstexan
Here is my Oktoberfest. Go to the local beer store in East Texas -- buy a six pack of some good German import beer. Sit on back porch - drink and relax.
01:06 October 5, 2010 by JohnPaul44
The solution is obvious! Alcohol has always been much more socially harmful and kills more people than tobacco, yet some genius chose to "improve" the Oktoberfest this year by banning smoking, while introducing more potent beer!

How stupid can you get? Ban the beer, you idiots!
01:47 October 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
If they banned the beer there wouldn't be any Oktoberfest, JP. I'm sure you realize that. Now, as a smoker, I don't favor the smoking ban, because nothing goes better with beer than smoking. Except guns, of course. Like in Tennessee, where they've just enacted legislation allowing people to carry their concealed guns into bars. Now what could go wrong with that? I think Germany should follow suit, particularly vis-a-vis Oktoberfest. People should be allowed to carry guns into the tents and on the streets, get as drunk as humanly possible and smoke to their hearts' content. This would solve many problems simultaneously, as the drunks would all shoot each other and the surviving smokers could hasten their own demise. This would quickly thin the crowds of revelers to a manageable size and Oktoberfest could once again be celebrated as it was originally intended.
03:53 October 5, 2010 by JohnPaul44
Hello, Prufrock,

I admit that my tongue may have been a little in my cheek when I made my last post, but that seems to be the only possible response to some of the news stories here in The Local. Do you sometimes get the impression that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and the only liberal response to it is a "celebration of diversity"?

I agree with your suggestion to allow people to carry guns, get as drunk as humanly possible, and smoke to their hearts content, with one difference. Separate-but-equal facilities should be provided for these activities, and severe criminal penalties should be imposed on violators. Guns and alcohol don't mix, any more than automobiles and alcohol mix.

I quit drinking in 1982, so perhaps I am a little biased.
04:31 October 5, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I certainly agree that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I take issue with your "liberal response" comment, as it is gratuitous. I'm not a liberal, as you know, but a progressive. The opposite of progressive is reactionary. I have no trouble determining with which camp I prefer to be aligned.
07:37 October 5, 2010 by JohnPaul44
Hi, Prufrock,

My slam at liberals was not directed at you personally, although I did look up "progressive" in my dictionary. It is defined as favoring political or social reform, liberal. "Reactionary" is defined as opposed to progress or liberalism. I guess the key to understanding these titles is how one defines reform or progress.

I remembered that reactionaries were mentioned in the words of the Horst-Wessel-Lied, the anthem of the Nazi party, in a very negative way. Apparently reactionaries opposed the "reform" and "progress" of the Nazis. It seems to be a very flexible word, and means anyone who opposes reforms which they see as destructive to the future of a country or a people.

In that sense, I am a reactionary. Thanks!
17:27 October 9, 2010 by recherche
Celebration of beer is a commendable thing to do. To connect beer, which has high nutritional value, with smoking tobacco is insane! Smoking is cancerous. Get rid of it. If the air was not filled with cancerous smoke the festival would be 1000% improved. What is more the social unrest would be lessened if smokers were discouraged from attending. It would become the culture event that it's creators intended. Hate to be a spoilsport, but it is time smoking was relegated to totally unacceptable. Here, we hear about casinos losing customers because of smoking bans. What we then discover is the massive numbers of gamblers who have been staying away precisely because of the smokers. Instead of casino patrons going down because of smoking bans, they in fact go up as people are attracted to casinos where they will not have to be assaulted with the repulsive smell of exhaled tobacco smoke.
00:07 October 14, 2010 by Drewsky
Attended during the week in September (I don't recall the exact date) and had a great time. Maybe the trick is to go during the week and don't wait until the end of the fest. We accounted for a number of the chickens and of course took care of two liters per person ...
16:35 October 14, 2010 by grazhdanin
how inventive - an article in which appears the term 'crises' (that's plural of 'crisis', isn't it?), please post more of those!
04:56 October 15, 2010 by MobileLife
Sounds like quite the party.
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