The Art of Surviving Oktoberfest

December 14, 2013
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Oktoberfest ended on Friday, October 4, 2013, after two weeks of revelry in which a total of 6.4 million visitors, many wearing traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses despite the cool autumn weather, downed 6.7 million liters of beer and devoured 114 oxen, organizers told Frankfurter Zeitung. Surprisingly, beer consumption was down from last year’s 6.9 million liters, while the number of visitors remained unchanged. The beer consumption record was set in 2011 when 7.5 million liters were drunk. In Munich, as with the Godfather, the mayor is expected to make lots of money for his friends. “Disappointing,” Munich’s Lord Mayor, Christian Üde, said at a press conference. “Next year we have a plan to double it!”  Touted by many pundits as a future Federal Chancellor, he is judged by Munich’s citizens over fiscal issues first. To keep their taxes low, like a board of directors, Münchners expect Oktoberfest to make a bigger profit every year.

A warning to heavy beer drinkers: you might end up like this.

Üde did much glad-handing and baby-kissing at the ceremonial opening of the first keg with two whacks of a large wooden hammer. Oktoberfest began in 1810 as a horse race between breweries to amuse the public on the occasion of a Bavarian royal wedding. As with the previous two centuries of mayors who have preceded him, Ude called out the traditional greeting, “O’zapft is!” – it’s tapped.

For those who get a kick out of the more interesting statistics produced by the world’s biggest beer and collateral vomit festival, here’s a list of lost items, it includes half a set of dentures, one Segway scooter, 2 wedding rings, a hearing-aid, 400 sets of keys, 320 smartphones, 520 wallets, 940 clothing items, 1,065 identity cards and passports, eight children, and 30 decorative knives known as Hirschfänger or “deer catchers’, EUR 50,000 in cash, a drum and a guitar.

A big surprise this year is the drop in numbers of violent incidents. Police describe this year’s fest as “normal” and relaxed, the number of brawls involving beer glasses falling from 66 to 58. Such fights are particularly dangerous because the glasses really are heavy and the worst hooligans are experienced street fighters from tribal towns like Liverpool in England, and Katowice in Poland. The artisan types among these thugs are deft at using rocks and glasscutters to turn the smooth drinking part of beer glasses into weapons good for eye-gouging and creating facial scars. Rather than ban them, Munich authorities desire the massive amounts they spend. “I am pleased that we were able to arrest 44 of these ‘beer glass’ attackers immediately after the incidents,” the Munich police Deputy President Robert Kopp told a press conference on the final day.

Drink this! It’s the law!

The total number of violent assaults rose from 439 to 449, although the number of serious injuries fell to from 119 to 99, according to Der Spiegel. No deaths this year; however, there was almost a fatality last Thursday when a drunken 25-year-old got in a fight, and had his jugular vein ruptured by a glass-wielding thug. Luckily the police were close by and saved his life by giving expeditious first-aid.

In total, 759 people were arrested, down from 793 in 2012. There were two reported cases of rape, down from four in 2012, and the total number of sexual offenses registered was little changed at 16, compared with 17 in 2012. Munich, which is rather an open-minded city considering its Southern Germanic Catholic roots, refrains from its old habits of throwing drunken revelers (who may be either simply urinating on the street rather than exposing themselves) into a Paddy wagon.

More surprisingly, perhaps, the number of folks who need to receive medical attention after drinking themselves into a state of unconsciousness (what Bavarians amusedly refer to as Bierleichen or ‘beer corpses’), fell from 800 in 2012 to 638 people this year. Atypically, a seventeen-year-old girl from the small neighboring town of Freissing was found collapsed at the door of her automobile by a police officer at 10:45 a.m. and was unable to stand or walk, even with assistance. When officers gave her a test, they found a stunning blood alcohol content of 3.4 per mill, seven times the legal driving limit in the state of Bavaria.

A man of the people, Lord Mayor Ude wagged a moralist’s finger and issued a warning to revelers. “It is also meant to be a fun fair. What I don’t like here is competitive drinking,” said Üde. “You don’t need to prove to the world that you’re a total idiot.”

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