Oktoberfest Opening Procession (Einzug der Wiesnwirte)

Do you have your copy of A Travel for Taste: Germany? It’s a collection of cultural stories and recipes from Germany, with an emphasis on traditional Bavarian cuisine. Even if you don’t cook, the stories are fascinating. Makes a great gift!

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Now: Continuing the blog’s new feature: Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP)!

Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on October 1, 2014, and updated on October 2, 2018.

In keeping with the Oktoberfest theme:

Each year there are two parades at the beginning of Munich’s famous beer fest, Oktoberfest. The first, and shorter, of the two is on the opening Saturday. The longer one is on the opening Sunday.

The first, shorter one, is the opening procession, the Einzug der Wiesnwirte. The participants are the families that run the breweries, the hard-working servers and staff, and the magnificent, highly ornamented horses pulling the beer wagons. A few bands and other groups also march in this procession. I wanted to photograph the horses and their finery.

I hadn’t seen either of these parades before this year, though I’d had the drunken experience of the beer tents a few years ago. It truly is a joyous fest, and all in honor of the humble brew.

So, on September 20, my husband and I met our visitors-but-soon-to-be-fellow-expats, Lori and Tim, at Munich’s main train station among a throng of Dirndl and Lederhosen. Along with the crowd, we walked the few blocks to the Theresienwiese, or fest grounds.

It was a rainy day, as you’ll be able to tell from the following photos. So please don’t judge my images harshly; I was crammed between a group of giddy Asian girls and a stern German couple at the retaining rope. And I was practically kneeling in a puddle of water when it rained, which was often. In addition, I was wearing a rain jacket, thank heaven, because if I hadn’t been, water falling from umbrellas above me would have streamed right down my neck.

While we were waiting for the parade to begin, some classic Bavarians got our hopes up as they decided to entertain the crowds in advance:

But that ended badly:

Anyway, here are some photos of the official procession. The first group of shots consists of those awesome work horses pulling wagons with the tent landlords, brewers’ families and service staff of the beer tents. Keep in mind that these poor souls getting soaked in the parade, in more ways than one, had to to go work in the tents as soon as the procession arrived at the fest grounds at the end of the route.

I’m glad I didn’t have to work the fest in waterlogged Lederhosen after this parade.

My second group of photos has more beautiful beasts pulling beer wagons. Not only do the wagons carry giant barrels inside, smaller barrels are suspended from the bottom of them, too.

Lots of greenery and flowers adorn simply everything.

Of course you can’t have a Bavarian parade without a few marching bands:

And then there were miscellaneous groups such as the coopers’ guild, whose costumes would be familiar to you if you’ve ever seen the Glockenspiel figures on Marienplatz. They perform the traditional Schläffertanz, which was originally performed in 1517 in Marienplatz to commemorate the end of the plague.

A winemaker’s guild had great costumes:

In the following photo, see the clown guy walking away beyond the policeman? He was indeed a clown and when I looked up from my camera he was right in my face and booped me on the nose with his finger. I thought it was funny until several people told me – much later – that I had a black dot on my nose. Clowns.

Near the end, an ox decided he was going to lunge right at me, at least it seemed so. Do you see him looking straight at me? Fortunately a strong farm hand was able to control him. Whew!

After the fun stuff, you can just see in the next photo the top of the big, orange street cleaners dispatched to clean up after the horses. I’d fled under an awning by that time. 
Much of the crowd followed the procession to the fest grounds. However, we took a lunch break instead. It’s great that the restaurant had a television tuned to OktoberfestTV (a real thing 24/7 only during the fest) so we could watch them tap the first barrel of beer to start the fest.

Fortunately the sun had begun to shine and the weather had improved drastically by the time we finished lunch. Therefore, we decided to check out Oktoberfest ourselves.

The horses and beer wagons were on display in front of the beer tents. And if you could elbow your way up to them, you could pet them and check out their finery. Even have your photo made with them.

Though we didn’t get into a beer tent that day, Lori and Tim managed it the next day – but without us. We all went to a nearby Biergarten on Saturday, though, and had just as much fun as if we’d gotten into a tent. Wonderful weather, good beer and people from all over the world! My kinda weekend!

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The Real German Munich Oktoberfest!

Do you have your copy of A Travel for Taste: Germany? It’s a collection of cultural stories and recipes from Germany, with an emphasis on traditional Bavarian cuisine. Even if you don’t cook, the stories are fascinating. Makes a great gift!

Click the image below to get yours on Amazon today!


Welcome to the first edition of the blog’s new feature: Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP)!
Each week on Tuesday, I’ll re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy. Please leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think.
This post was originally published on December 8, 2011, and updated on September 25, 2018.
Throwback Tuesday Post from December 2011:
Because it’s that time of year, here’s the story of my first visit to the genuine Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany:
My husband and I ventured to Munich, Germany, for my first foray into the biggest beer party in the world: Oktoberfest!
Tuesday morning first thing we made our way to the Theresienwiese, or Theresa’s Field, where Oktoberfest is held. Tuesday morning just before 10am is one of the best times to go; it’s family day and a large part of the visitors are there to bring the children for the rides. That means there are fewer beer drinkers filling up the tents that early.
There is a subway stop that deposits you just outside the fest grounds:

I shot this guy in full Oktoberfest regalia on the escalator:

Here’s my hubby celebrating the fact he is at the Oktoberfest gate!
This was my very first visit to the real Oktoberfest. I’ve been to dozens of little local fests, but this one was all that plus steroids! Think of it as a giant carnival with two midways. One midway has the requisite roller coaster, ferris wheel, bumper cars and other rides along with snack stands:
The other midway, and the main attraction, is lined with giant beer tents radiating out on both sides. Fourteen major breweries build these “tents” each year for the occasion. The “tents” are mostly wooden framework with steel girders and tin roofs.
They had the wherewithal to locate the ferris wheel at the end of the beer midway so I could get this aerial shot of the beer tents. Each one of those giant, long buildings is a beer “tent.”
We had gotten there just before 10:00 a.m., which is opening time. I was able to visit most of the tents all the way down the line and get pretty good photographs inside each one before they started filling up and choking with people.
Here is a typical “tent.” That gazebo in the middle is for the band:
The Lowenbrau tent had a giant mechanical lion over the front door who drank from his beer stein and bellowed “Lowenbrau!” every few seconds! When I showed this photo to my friend Adi, he bellowed, “Lowenbrau!”
After strolling the grounds and getting oriented, we chose the Augustiner beer tent as our first quaff. Here’s our barmaid:
My German friends always told us that they didn’t wait for the foam to settle on the beers before serving them. The “right” way to do it is to let the foam settle then add more beer so the customer gets his money’s worth. Technically, the beer should reach the ring near the top of the glass. The last couple of inches is for the foam. However, things happen fast and furious in the Oktoberfest beer tents, so there’s no time for that sort of thing!
A family from the Basque region of Spain sat down beside us at the table. The coolest thing about Oktoberfest is that you gather best friends from all over the world! Whoever sits at your table with you is instantly your new “family.” These guys were no exception. Here’s our barmaid bringing us our brews:
And the most fun – Ein Prosit! You have to do this when they sing the toasting song!
Here’s a shot of our Oktoberfest “family.” My husband, the Spanish mom and dad, the son-in-law and the daughter. The parents didn’t speak English, but that didn’t stop us all from communicating! Notice the thumbs-up from dad – the mustache and eyebrows are real and that thumbs-up was for me!
Outside there is all manner of goings-on, such as beautifully decked out horses pulling giant wagons with giant beer barrels:
We moved on to the Spaten beer tent later. Here’s a shot of the “oompah” band there. Each tent has its own band that plays German drinking songs throughout the day. BTW, there is even an Oktoberfest TV channel during the celebration!
Our Spaten tent “family:”
Too soon we had drank all the beer we were about to drink for the day, and I had gotten all the photos I wanted from Munich’s famous fest. It was beginning to get very crowded and the weather had gotten hot, so we decided to flee back to the English Garden for the afternoon. So, it was time to bid Theresienwiese “Auf Wiedersehen!” I would highly recommend anyone to go to Oktoberfest. It’s just a big, jolly beer party with lots of Bavarian sights, sounds and food. Oh, and beer. Most of all beer.

I hope you enjoyed a trip to Oktoberfest with me. It was REALLY hard to choose only a few photos of it. It’s an immense and wonderful place – you should really go! I volunteer to meet you there!

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Denver’s German Oktoberfest Beer Party

Well, you know me, always up for an Oktoberfest! This time I found it in Denver, Colorado – who knew? Since I’ve been to the real one in Munich several times, I have lots of past blog posts about it. For example, the opening procession and the Big O-Fest itself.

I have to congratulate myself on NOT casting aspersions on the American versions of Oktoberfest, too – it’s never as big and never the same, but I know they’re trying. (Sorry, that was kind of an aspersion, wasn’t it?)

Anyway, Colorado has a couple dozen Oktoberfests of varying sizes and locations. I’ve seen listings for at least two in Denver. But this one’s website said “Since 1969” and seemed to be the one referred to most often in online articles I read. So, I donned my Oktoberfest garb, including t-shirt that looks like a Dirndl and authentic fest hat, and headed downtown last weekend to check out Denver’s interpretation. It occurs on two consecutive weekends in September – you DO remember I’ve told you that Munich’s Oktoberfest starts in September and ends on the first weekend in October, right?  in the Ballpark neighborhood, which surrounds Coors Field baseball stadium (Go, Rockies!).

Denver’s ‘Fest is held in the Ballpark neighborhood, which surrounds Coors Field baseball stadium (Go, Rockies!). First thing I saw was a big crowd gathered around a small race course. That would be the Long Dog Derby, a dachsund dog race!

The big steel girders and brick walls in the background belong to Coors Field. And the green Spaten tent, though an American-style tent, was serving up real German Spaten beer from Munich. Spaten means “spade” in German – hence the shovel logo.

Although I couldn’t get close to the dog race track to even see the pups, much less take any photos, I bring you a gallery of Dachsunds that pervaded the entire day. Look for the Dachsund wine next to a real dachsund – it’s a Riesling that comes from the Mosel valley in Germany.

And here are some street scenes from the approximately-four-square-blocks of fest:

A beer ticket cost $6 each, four for $20. You could buy the commemorative “stein” for $25, or for $30 they’d throw in two beer tickets. There were VIP tickets available, too, which cost $100 or more, depending on which day you were there. Those entitled you to unlimited beer and food in the VIP area, which looked kinda like a playpen in the midst of all this:

Love the bouncer at the gate! But you could wander in and out as you pleased if you had the VIP ticket, and I’m sure it was a benefit later when the crowds showed up and the bands were playing on the several stages:

By the way, the word Stein in German means “stone”, and I’ve never heard a German refer to this or any other glass as a Stein. In Bavaria they are called a Maβ, which means “measure” and really means the glass holds one liter (1.06 quarts) of liquid. The stoneware ones are called Krug, which is closer to meaning “mug”, though it can mean other stuff like “pitcher”.

And, just for the record, I compared the Denver Oktoberfest glass with one I got in Munich, which is much heavier:

I filled the Denver glass to the rim (with water!) and poured it into the German one. It filled the German glass to the line you see just above the handle where the circle pattern ends. And that, interestingly, is just where the Germans fill the beer to – the rest of the head space is for the foam. If the beer in Germany doesn’t have foam, it is assumed the beer is flat and not fresh. At Denver’s fest, FYI, they filled the glass to the top of the logo, more or less.

More scenes:

The building in the background on the corner with the tower and spire is a dive bar called Herb’s. It’s been around since the 30’s. (In researching this building, I learned you don’t want to Google “Herbs in Denver”!)

These guys had the Lederhosen right, but not the hats, shoes or socks:

From inside the “beer tent”:

In Germany the beer tent is humongous and houses not only tables but also the beer sales counter and stage. Plus it’s enclosed on all sides. Here there were two open tents which were more like public tables to eat the sausage-centric fare available. Look for my brat on a hotdog bun with saurkraut in this gallery – it was really good!

Something I’ve never seen in Germany: Turkey legs!

Nor will you see Rice Krispie treats:

They served real Munich Franziskaner Weissbier (wheat beer):

And my absolute favorite, candied almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln):

These were delicious, though not quite the same as the German ones. These had decidedly more buttery flavor, salt and vanilla, but they were just as addictive!

We interrupt this blog post for a commercial announcement! You may have noticed I’ve been monetizing the blog lately – hosting costs have just gone too high not to. So, I joined a couple of affiliate programs, including Amazon Associates. With that, if someone (you!) clicks an ad on my site and ends up buying the Amazon (or other) product, I get a little cut. I will try to keep the ad content relevant to my blog, keep the ads about things I would and do use myself, and also keep those annoying popup ads off the site. And I won’t always interrupt the text with ads, either – you’ll mainly see them on the sidebar and below the posts. For this first time, I’d like to recommend some inexpensive cooking items I’ve bought from Amazon lately and highly recommend, especially those magnetic hooks and the Kitchenaid attachment. If you click here and end up buying them, I thank you for the help in maintaining this website and blog!

Back to Oktoberfest:

I also had a pretzel – required – but it wasn’t very good, actually. A little too doughy or dry or something. But I gave them a pass because I’ve tried baking bread here and it’s hard to get right because of the altitude. Click here for my tutorial on how to make real German pretzels in sane places, like closer to sea level.

There were also games, like keg bowling (not found in Germany):

And the seemingly-ever-present-in-Colorado “cornhole”, which I grew up calling “beanbag”. I don’t know why they are so attached to this game here, but you see it everywhere! This one was an enhanced version with multiple holes and a point system.

I truly enjoyed my visit to Denver’s Oktoberfest. The people were friendly, as always, the weather was fine and the food and beer were great. I’m looking forward to next year already!

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Get Ready for Oktoberfest! Visit the International Beer Garten near Tampa, FL

As much as I miss Germany, alas and alack, I cannot be in ye olde Munich town this year for Oktoberfest. The O-fest begins, as you know if you’ve been paying attention, in September each year and ends on the first weekend of October. That means that the grand beer party starts in just two days, on September 17! You can get your fill of information about it from several of my previous posts:

Oktoberfest! or Oktoberfest Opening Procession (Einzug der Wiesnwirte) or Flap Alert! The Anatomy of Lederhosen. I’ve even told you how to make the famous pretzels and other snacks they have at beer fests there.

But this year I can give you a Florida location where you can celebrate in spirit with the Germans. It’s the International Beer Garten in Lutz, north of Tampa just off the Suncoast Parkway on Highway 54 in North Pointe Village. It’s kind of a strange place for a beer garten, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, ok?


I visited the IBG earlier this year and was surprised to learn that it is a one-off joint; it’s not part of a chain. Our waitress/barkeep was super friendly and forthcoming with information about the beers and the place in general. My husband and I enjoyed a German beer from one of our favorite places, Andechs Abbey, which I wrote about last year. I’d never seen this brand of beer here in the USA before.


We also partook of the famous German wheat beer, Hefeweizen. They even had the right glass for it:


Granted, they don’t have much of a real “garten” to drink your beer in:


But when it’s 8,000 degrees Fahrenheit outside nine months of the year, who wants to sit outside? They have plenty of room inside with lots of A/C:


You can see the wide range of international beers they have in bottles through the glass doors in the above photo. The IBG also has daily or weekly specials, depending on stock. One of the many TVs serves as the latest menu so you’re always up to date:


They also have many, many beers on tap, as many as 52, as you can see in my favorite photo from my visit there:

harley-davidson-bar-beer ‘Murica!

The International Beer Garten is located at 16540 Pointe Village Drive Suite 102 in Lutz, FL, 33558, although they claim to be in Tampa. Close enough. The phone number is (813) 749-0884, email contact@ibgtampa.com. Their bar is a full bar, with wine and liquor, too. There is also a small bandstand in one corner where they have live music on weekends. They are open each afternoon into the night. Check their website for the best information and events.

I was impressed by this place! Can you tell it surprised me? They even had decent bar food, everything from bratwurst and pretzels to nachos, burgers, wraps and pizza. Who knew?

By the way, if you need some good, authentic recipes for your Oktoberfest party, check out my cookbooks – the recipes are straight from Germany!

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Radi, the German Radish They Eat with Beer

In honor of Oktoberfest in Munich – um, let’s take a moment here before I go on. Oktoberfest, despite its name, starts in mid-September every year. It ends on the first weekend of October. Yes, it used to take place in October, but a couple a hundred years ago it was moved up to avoid the bad weather that may occur later in the season. This year, Oktoberfest started on September 19. It ends on October 4.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll start again. In honor of Oktoberfest, I want to tell you about a snack that is served in the beer tents in Germany, along with the brew and pretzels. It’s called Radi, a spiral-cut radish that is sprinkled with salt and maybe chives, and eaten with the fingers as the beer is quaffed. I can’t tell you how great this snack tastes with German beer!

The type of radish served is one that is known as the Munich Beer Radish and which grows in and around those parts where the good beer flows. However, that particular radish species is pretty scarce in the USA. So you can use a daikon radish or any firm, long, white radish. Sometimes they are called winter radishes. I didn’t have access to a real Munich Beer Radish, so I opted for the daikon, which is the closest thing I could find here in Florida.

If you’re into that kind of thing, you can buy heirloom Munich Beer Radish seeds at many online places. If you click here you can see a picture of the real deal and buy the seeds as well.

Technically, you can spiral cut radishes by hand, as shown on this YouTube video. But what fun is that? In the beer tents, the radish is cut on a contraption that is made for the sole purpose of spiral-cutting radishes. Like so:

However, again, I didn’t have that luxury. I did almost buy one of these last year, but they run about 85 Euros ($95 at the time of this writing). I went instead for a spiralizer that I can use for many different kinds of veggies.

So I peeled my daikon and cut it using the straight blade of the spiralizer. There are two drawbacks to using my machine instead of the dedicated spiral cutter. First, the slices on my spiralizer come out thicker, so they aren’t as crispy as the thin-cut spirals. The second is that the core of the radish is not cut, but rather comes out in a long stick:
I also tried an apple peeler/corer machine someone gave me recently:

But the result was worse, with thicker slices and an even larger uncut core. You can see the apple machine result on the left and the spiralizer result on the right in this photo:
So I continued spiralizing my daikons until I got an attractive mound. And in German style, I sprinkled them liberally with salt and chopped chives. Here’s a picture from the Web of the real deal Radi served in Germany. You can see the thinner slices and how the spirals have almost no core missing:


The Radi are served with beer, of course, and German pretzels. By the way, if you want to make authentic German pretzels, you can find the recipe in my German cookbook.

Don’t let Oktoberfest pass without trying this crispy, and healthy, snack. It’s raw vegan and gluten-free, too!

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