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All About Oktoberfest, the beer, the history, the food!

It’s 2019 and we are still celebrating the 1810 marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig! There aren’t too many parties that turn into the world’s largest folk festival! That must’ve been quite the celebration! We can thank him and his bride for what we now call Oktoberfest!

Beer has always been part of any festival but Oktoberfest is an ode-to-beer like no other.

So get your tavern ready. Shine up those tap-handles. Stock up on swag. Get in shape for those one-liter mugs. Those beer-starved German wannabes have waited all year for this party.

The Oktoberfest tradition started in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over five days on the fields in front of the city gates. The main event of the original Oktoberfest was a horse race.

Anniversary celebrations were held annually thereafter that eventually became larger and more elaborate. An agricultural show was added during the second year. In 1818, a carousel and two swings were set up for the revelers. Such amusements were few in the first decades of the festival, but party-goers were amply entertained by the tree climbing competitions, wheel barrow and sack races, mush eating contests, barrel rolling races, and goose chases. By 1870s, mechanical rides were an expanding feature of the festival and in 1908, the festival boasted Germany's first roller coaster. When the city began allowing beer on the fairgrounds, makeshift beer stands began cropping up, and their number increased steadily until they were eventually replaced by beer halls in 1896. The beer halls, like the beer tents of today, were sponsored by the local breweries.

The festival was eventually prolonged and moved ahead to September to allow for better weather conditions. Today, the last day of the festival is the first Sunday in October. In 2006, the Oktoberfest extended two extra days because the first Tuesday, October 3, was a national holiday. Over the past 200 years, Oktoberfest was canceled 24 times due to cholera epidemics and war.

Oktoberfest what does that word bring to mind? For the millions of people who celebrate this German festival across the world and especially in the USA, it’s all about the beer. In fact, when you think about it, how amazing is it that there is a festival that started 209 years ago in Germany that has become such a celebrated event in the United States. Well in our humble opinion it’s because of the beer. Although the original Oktoberfest was a party for a royal wedding, the celebration has evolved over time into a celebration of beer, German food, and culture.

What an incredible opportunity to bring your brand to the attention of those beer-loving festival-goers who are dedicated to this amazing beverage. Just as you take pride in the beer that you create, it is important that you need to show the same devotion to your brand that you do to your beer. The effort that you put into your recipe and brewing, you must also put into building your brand with promotional items, displays, and swag. What better time to build your brand than at a festival that celebrates the very product you create.

Here at Swing Shift promotions, we love beer, in fact, that is how we came to be involved in this delicious business. We saw a need to help the many new craft brewers establish themselves in a market dominated by giant distributors and mega breweries. What makes us unique is our desire to listen to your ideas and then make them come to life. Our professional designers and state of the art equipment stand ready to create a brand identity that will elevate your product to a whole new level.

We all know that Oktoberfest is about beer but it is truly a multifaceted celebration that includes that all-important element Food. Yes, any German celebration must include German food. A typical offering in Munich would include: Hendl (chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Weisswurst (white sausage), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Wurst (little sausages served with pretzels), Kasespatzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), and Lebkuchen-Herzen (gingerbread hearts, usually with a message on it), and finally, Knodel (potato/bread dumplings). All this great food can be found at many of the Oktoberfest locations but not all locations are going to offer a full menu. So here is a suggestion for those who are thinking about this year’s Oktoberfest.

One of the USA’s favorite comfort foods is Macaroni & Cheese it’s a sure winner with almost everyone, plus it is inexpensive to make and easy to scale up for a large crowd. All that being said, there is a German version of Mac & Cheese called Kasespatzle.

To be true to the recipe, make the spatzle from scratch as shown in the tutorial because the German egg noodles are much better tasting than typical macaroni noodles and they have a much different texture. If you have some serious cooks at your brewery, you can alter the kind of cheese to match one of the favorite cheeses in your area. Also, in addition to the caramelized onions, you might consider adding some bacon broken up into smaller pieces. Decadent and Delicious!

So how do you combine a 16-day festival with brand building? Well, here is an idea, have a “Keep the Coaster” promotion. When a festival goer orders some food and beer you bring it to them with a coaster for the glass and your server explains that the coaster is yours to keep. The key is that this is no ordinary coaster. Our Swing Shift coaster is stunning and unique. It is a 1/4 inch wooden disk with your logo or labels printed on it. Classy and substantial, a far cry from the typical paper or cardboard coaster, this coaster will speak volumes about your attention to detail and to creating extra value for your patrons.

Keep the Coaster is a chance for your brand to make it into the home of someone who enjoyed your beer, and is likely to spread the word about your offerings. Brand building is also about creating a lasting relationship and one great way to do that is to create collectibles. Collectibles are a great way to keep up enthusiasm and interest. Let’s say you have several different brews of beer. Each one has a label and you probably spent some time working on that label. Leverage that time by putting each label on a different coaster and creating a set of label coasters for your collectors.

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