Oktoberfest may have come and gone, but Tatler Dining just had a nice conversation with Ludwig Gaisbauer, a chef-entrepreneur from Bavaria now based in Malaysia, about this very traditional German celebration.
What is the significance of Oktoberfest in Germany?
Oktoberfest is a very traditional event in Munich that is open to public. It originated in Munich and first started in 1810 with the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Hilburghausen. That's the reason why the location of where Oktoberfest is held is named Theresienwiese, which means Therese’s Lawn. The only time ever when there was no Oktoberfest was during WWII.
Today, Oktoberfest is simply referred to as just Wiesen (lawn) by native Munich people. The traditional and original Oktoberfest only happens in Munich and nowhere else is it this grand.
The land on which Oktoberfest is held is a privately owned and was given to the City of Munich for the sole purpose of Oktoberfest with the condition that no other permanent buildings will be constructed on it. To put it into perspective, the size of the land is probably as big as 20-30 football fields, if not bigger than that.
A lot of livelihoods depend on Oktoberfest. For example, I had a cousin who ran a small pretzel stand there. She was a widow with two small children so the business helped her.
Oktoberfest is also a very popular tourist attraction, generating a huge amount of business from people all over the world. It is a huge source of revenue for the breweries and small independent stalls in Oktoberfest.