At the tapping of the first beer barrel at Munich’s Oktoberfest this Saturday, the focus will be on one traditional issue: How many blows will it take Munich mayor Dieter Reiter to “tap” the cask? Anything more than three would require some explaining on his part.
However, the Oktoberfest – only ever referred to as the “Wiesn” (meadows) in the Bavarian capital – has an entirely different problem this year: security. Following several terror attacks in Germany over the summer, including the killing of nine people at a Munich shopping center by a teenage gunman, backpacks have been prohibited and a fence erected around the festival grounds.
The fence alone has proved to be a bone of contention in the city. The biggest folk festival in the world fenced in? The question which immediately sprang to mind was whether the traditional atmosphere was at risk.
Despite this, millions of people will still visit the Wiesn, especially because the event has been extended by one day to include the public holiday marking the anniversary of German reunification on October 3.