Oktoberfest is an annual celebration that began in Germany on October 12, 1810 in celebration of the Crowned Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. King Ludwig wanted the entire Free State of Bavaria to revel in the excitement of his new bride. The celebratory event of choice consisted of a horse race, which drew in a crowd of about 40,000. King Ludwig even named the grassy field where it took place, “Theresienwiese”, meaning Theresa's meadow. The presence of the Royal Family, horse races, and monumental size of the event helped shape it into a celebration of Bavaria, and eventually Oktoberfest. The celebration was held again the following year, but this time included an agricultural aspect in order to boost Germany’s agriculture. Although the horse race eventually was lost from that festival, the agricultural show still remains a prevalent aspect that many festival goers look forward to. Other aspects of the festival include carnival booths, a carousel, swings, and a massive parade, as well as a plethora of German food including sausages, pretzels, chicken, roast pork, dumplings, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, and cabbage.
In the United States each Oktoberfest celebration is unique. Entertainment choices and local foods and beverages all create special regional flavors. Even so you can still count on some things remaining the same everywhere: live Bavarian style music, such as polka music, authentic German foods and German beer. Here are some of the more common dishes:
· Sauerkraut: The most well known German food is finely sliced green cabbage that has been pickled. This gives the cabbage a distinct sour flavor, which is where it gets the name Sauerkraut (sour cabbage).
· Wiener Schnitzel: A breaded veal cutlet that is dipped in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, then fried in butter or oil to a golden brown. It is traditionally served with a lemon wedge, which you can use to drizzle fresh lemon juice over the schnitzel.
· Dampfnudel: A traditional Southern Germany dish made from yeast dough formed into balls that are cooked in a pot with a little liquid (milk and butter or water and butter). As the liquid boils, it both cooks and steams the Dampfnudel.
· Hendl: Whole chickens grilled on a spit and typically sold in halves. Variations are the spit-roasted duck or goose.
Fun Oktoberfest Facts:
Most Popular Oktoberfests Outside of Germany
- Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival in Kitchener and Waterloo http://www.oktoberfest.ca/
- The National Beer Festival in Argentina http://www.welcomeargentina.com/villageneralbelgrano/beer-festival.html
- Ohio’s Zinzinatti Oktoberfest http://www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/