Oohmpah-oompah — Ka-ching!

O’zapft is! at the mother of all beer orgies, the oohmpah fest to end all oohmpah fests. With two mighty strokes the mayor of Munich drove the tap into the barrel of beer and handed the first beer to the Ministerpr√ɬ§sident (Governor) of the Free State of Bavaria. The natives went wild! Especially the Japanese, American and Australians in lederhosen, rearing to go native in pools of beer and piles of greasy haxen.

The Munich Wiesn – aka Oktoberfest – is open for business, and business they mean. Last year 5.9 million visitors drank 5.5 million liters (1.45 million gallons) of beer and ate 89 oxen. The beer price is up, again, at over 7 Euro ($ 8.50) per liter! The Wiesn supports 8000 full-time employees and another 4000 temps.

Now, allow me to get this straight: The Cincinnati Oktoberfest is not anywhere near the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world. At roughly 500.000 visitors they get an honorable mention. And I seriously doubt that Uncle Al’s and Capt. Windy’s hokey pokey is the World’s most annoying performance either …

Which of Germany’s largest Volksfest events is the largest is a matter of great contention and serious dispute. The rivals Munich Wiesn and Cannstadter Wasen have been going head-to-head for as long as I can remember (not that I ever really cared). Years ago, when I lived in Stuttgart, neighbouring Cannstadt proudly claimed to beat Munich by a couple hundred thousand visitors, but both events only relied on estimates. When the Cannstadt organizers did an actual tally, they came out way below their estimates, and never published the figures. Currently, they claim 5 million visitors annually, independent estimates for last year were 3 million visitor in Cannstadt.

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