Organizers Pleased With Munich Beer Fest Oktoberfest Ends With Beer-Swilling Record

This year's Munich Oktoberfest ended on Sunday with new records for beer and oxen consumption and for the number of false dentures found. Rowdy it may be, but the festival, just like last year's World Cup, seems to be exporting a positive image of Germany.

The 174th Munich Oktoberfest closed its beer tents on Sunday after 16 days of debauchery that attracted 6.2 million visitors who drank 6.7 million liters (the equivalent of 11 million pints) of beer, ate 104 oxen and lost three sets of false teeth.

The organizers of the world's biggest beer festival, the Munich Oktoberfest, never fail to provide an impressive array of statistics once it closes. Beer consumption per day was the highest in the festival's 174-year history at 419,000 liters, up from 383,000 in 2006, the previous record, according to figures proudly presented on Sunday.

Total consumption at 6.7 million liters was down from last year's 6.9 million but this year's festival was two days shorter, so per-day beer consumption was significantly higher.

A new record was also set in oxen consumption, up two from last year at 104. Overall food consumption -- that also includes sausages and pretzels the size of steering wheels -- was up 10 percent from last year.

The number of false dentures found surged to three this year from one in 2006, said Gabriele Weishäupl, head of the organizing committee, outlining some of the more unusual objects among the 4,400 lost items found by cleaners. Some 50 lost children were also recovered.

"Without wanting to put a gloss on it, this really was a great Oktoberfest," Munich Mayor Christian Ude told a news conference.

The organizers praised the thousands of foreign visitors, most of them from Italy, eastern Europe and the United States, who had gone to the trouble of donning Bavarian Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen this year.

The number of police callouts increased by 13 percent from last year to 1,779, mostly relating to thefts although there were a number of serious assaults, rapes and one attempted murder. "We wouldn't say it was a peaceful Oktoberfest," said police spokesman Peter Reichl. "There was quite a high level of crime." But given the number of visitors and the quantity of alcohol consumed, the police were "satisfied overall," he added.

In an indication of heavy drug use at the festival, scientists who examined the blood of 405 Oktoberfest guests treated for excessive alcohol consumption found that 31 percent of them had taken other drugs, mainly Ecstasy, Speed and cannabis.

But Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung noted that the festival has always been a raucous affair. Decades ago, in the good old days fondly remembered by locals when it had been less commercial and more genuinely Bavarian, many policemen would call in sick rather than patrol the beer tents during "Bricklayers Monday," when the city's construction workers flocked to the fair to sip a quiet few liters.

"The festival may be younger, louder and busier than ever before. But just like the World Cup last year,  it's very peaceful, very international and free from nationalist undertones. If the Germans no longer show an ugly face even after three liter-steins of beer, one can relax and rest one's weary head," wrote the paper.

cro/dpa

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