Oktoberfest is the largest public festival in the world. It's held each year in Munich, Germany, where the Bavarian festival originated and is known to locals as the "Wiesn". The first festival was part of the 1810 marriage celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Subsequent Oktoberfests, which were originally horse races, commemorate the marriage. The name "Wiesn" originates from "Theresienwiese", the name of the race grounds in honor of Princess Therese. Today, locals have shortened the word and continue to call the festival "Wiesn", which refers to the "meadow" where the fair is held.
The festival is held in numerous beer tents set up by Munich breweries. On an average year, more than 6 million people attend the 16-day event and drink around 5 million liters of beer and eat over 200,000 pork sausages. Brass band musical concerts, costume contests, parades, carousels, roller coasters, and other rides and carnival games are also part of the festivities.
Never ones to pass up the opportunity for a fun food celebration, Americans have adopted the Oktoberfest celebration. The German Fest in Milwaukee, WI, most closely resembles the Bavarian Oktoberfest and was first held in 1846 by German immigrants. This year marks its 156th anniversary. Cincinnati, OH, also has its own version of Oktoberfest known as "Oktoberfest Zinzinnati". The largest American version of Oktoberfest, the September festival was begun in 1976 and celebrates German heritage.
Have your own Oktoberfest celebration this year with our collection of traditional recipes, with a lighter, modern take on hearty German fare.
Bavarian Stew with Sausage and Sauerkraut
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apples
Sausage Ragout with Egg Noodles
Grandma Bebe's Apple Kuchen