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Everyone knows that Oktoberfest has German roots, but few people know the history behind the annual celebration that is now replicated worldwide. With our Hempler’s heritage dating back to the 1800’s in Borken, Germany, Oktoberfest naturally holds a special place in our hearts. To learn more about the history and tradition that extends beyond the simple consumption of beer and sausages, here’s a brief history of the festival, along with a glimpse of what it looks like today.

The First Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest’s roots can be traced back to 1810 in Munich, which is in the Bavarian region of Germany. On October 12th of that year, the future King Ludwig got married and invited the entire city to attend the celebration, which included a large feast and horse races.

It was such a hit that they decided to repeat the horse races the following year, and the tradition of an annual October gathering – now known as Oktoberfest – was born.

The Growth of Oktoberfest

In the early years, an agricultural fair was added to the horse races to help boost the economy. By the end of the 1800’s a carnival aspect was added to the gathering, which made the event more attractive to families. Over time the horse races stopped, but the event continued to grow. As for Oktoberfest’s association with beer, the early gatherings were peppered with beer stands but in 1896 they were replaced with large brewery-sponsored beer tents.

Oktoberfest Today

While Oktoberfest celebrations are popular around the world, the original Oktoberfest continues on in Munich. And despite its name, it actually starts on a mid-September Saturday, runs for 16 days, and ends on the first Sunday in October.

The current iteration of Oktoberfest is a celebration of German culture, food, and (of course) beer. The only beer served at the event comes from the original 6 breweries in Munich, and the celebration gets kicked off with the mayor tapping the keg in as few swings of the hammer as possible.

Besides the food and beer, the festival is full of traditional Bavarian music, open-air performances, a grand entry and parades, vendor tents, carnival rides, a shooting competition, and traditional German outfits. The two-week fair wraps up in dramatic fashion with a boisterous brass band and a gun salute.

Oktoberfest is a fun celebration of German heritage and we’re proud to be able to bring some of that heritage to you in our family’s legacy and products. To help make your own celebration taste authentic, check out our fresh, all natural bratwurst, our smoked bratwurst, our German sausage, or our summer sausage.

If you can’t make it to Oktoberfest, we can help bring the flavors of Oktoberfest to you!