You cut me real deep, Coronavirus. You cut me real deep just now.
If you’re still reeling from the recent announcement that the Oktoberfest has been cancelled this year, you are not alone. This just goes to show that nothing is untouchable; not even the largest and oldest beer festival in the world has been able to escape the Coronavirus. The citizens of Munich, Bavarians, the entire country of Germany and people all over the world are heartbroken.
2020 marks the 210th anniversary of the royal wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on the 12th of October in 1810 which prompted the beginning of the Oktoberfest celebrations. The distinctly Bavarian festival has become an international celebration that attracts people from all over the world. The highest attendance ever recorded was 7.1 million attendees with an average of more than 25% hailing from over 55 different nations.
You might be questioning the decision to announce the cancellation nearly 5 months before the opening ceremonies were slated to take place; however, the erection of the 14 large beer tents with their elaborate decorations, 15 small beer tents, amusement park and over 600 vendor stalls commences in early July and preparations for the recurring construction begin much earlier. Each year, employment of nearly 12,000 people is required to build the fairgrounds and staff the festival. Around 4,000 jobs are created specifically for the event. Estimates put the cost of cancelling this year's festivities at €1.23 billion for the city of Munich alone. This number only accounts for the influx of tourism that supports the fair itself as well as local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, retailers and transportation. Additional revenue generated by the surge of tourism can exceed 5x that amount.
In the soon to be 210 year history of the festival, the Oktoberfest has only been cancelled 25 times as a result of war, cholera and on one occasion, economic instability. We can now add Coronavirus to this depressing list of factors to upset the legacy of all-around revelry in recognition of Bavarian culture and tradition. The last time the 2 week celebration was impacted was over 70 years ago during WWII.
But, fear not fellow beer enthusiasts, Oktoberfest is expected to return in 2021! We may have to wait a little longer to don our dirndls and lederhosen while we raise our beers and sing along to the iconic sounds of Ein Prosit, but the anticipation will only make our first Maß that much more refreshing. To 2021...Prost! (Yeah, that hurt.)