More beer, fewer brawls at Germany’s Oktoberfest 05 Oct 11

(Reuters) – Revelers at Germany’s Oktoberfest, the world’s largest folk festival, consumed a record 7.5 million liters (1.65 million Imp gallons) of beer during the 17-day party which ended on Monday in blazing sunshine.

Despite gloom in Germany about the spiralling debt crisis, the festival drew some 6.9 million visitors, many clad in traditional Bavarian lederhosen or dirndls, said the organizers.

Although most visitors come from Bavaria, home of the Oktoberfest, over a million travel to Munich from abroad, mostly from Italy, the United States and Australia.

To the rousing strains of oompah bands, partygoers devoured 118 oxen and 53 calves. But, as usual, the most popular fare to help soak up a “Mass,” or liter mug, of beer was roast chicken — hundreds of thousands of which were consumed, along with pork sausages.

“The atmosphere at the Oktoberfest was, until the last day, absolutely excellent,” said Munich mayor Christian Ude, who described it as a “Dream Oktoberfest.”

The organizers were particularly pleased that there were only 58 brawls in which drinkers used their “Masskrug,” or heavy liter beer mugs, as a weapon, said police.

In true Teutonic tradition, the clear-up is already well under way and the Lost and Found office is sifting through its collection of curiosities. This year they include an 8-centimetre long live grasshopper, a Viking helmet, a walking frame, two crutches and a set of dentures.

A total of 4,750 items were handed in, including 1,045 passports and 390 mobile telephones, said the office. The 48 children who were lost have all been claimed.

Although the strong, specially brewed beer is probably the main draw, especially for tourists from abroad, the festival’s organizers have tried to restore a more traditional feel to the celebrations with folk music and historic funfair rides.

The Oktoberfest was first celebrated 201 years ago when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen and invited Munich’s citizens to join the party on the Theresienwiesen, a patch of green just outside the city center.

Nowadays the tents get so full, especially at weekends, that burly officials have to close the doors. Local firms often book out whole benches for corporate entertainment.