Oktoberfest in Munich.
It really is all about the bier.
Oktoberfest begins with a parade of horse-drawn wagons filled with barrels of beer. The horses are gigantic draft horses, with rumps higher than my shoulder height. And I'm 5'8" tall (in boots).
All of the big Munich breweries; Augustiner, Hacker, Spaten, Loenbrau, Hofbrau have beer halls in Munich and a 'tent' at Oktoberfest. The tents are built for use over three weekends per year. That's it.
Oktoberfest! The photographs above and below give you an idea of the scale of these wagons. There are about 11 large barrels and 15 small ones. That's a lot of beer -- probably only a day's worth at Oktoberfest.
I love Oktoberfest. It celebrates the marriage of Prince Ludwig in the late 1800s. It was so popular, it became an annual event. It was originally in October, but his father, King Max, grew weary of attending an event in damn, chilly October, so it was moved to September when -- theoretically -- the weather is more favorable.
One supposes that the KIng's advisors thought it silly to hold an October event in September, so it was moved to encompass the first weekend in October. The festival was born.
In Munich, there is a gigantic festival grounds and a dozen or so 'tents', actually semi-permanent structures, are erected. Each of these behemoths holds in excess of 2,000 people with smaller themed tents holding fewer merry-makers.
The coopers, or barrel makers, are an important part of Munich history. They were the first to dance in the streets following an outbreak of the plague. And, given what they do, they are almost as important as the monks who brewed the beer.
And don't forget the whips!
There were two parades. This one marked the beginning of the Fest. A second parade held on Sunday was a processional of native costumes and more beer, wagons, and dignitaries.
I took a ton of pictures but will let this post tell the story of Oktoberfest Parades.