It took Ude just two swift strokes to pound a spigot into the first massive keg of beer. Following festival protocol, he handed the first liter mug, called a “Mass,” to Bavarian Governor Guenther Beckstein.
A 12-gun salute signaled to the hundreds of thousands who turned out on a cool September afternoon that it was time to start the beer flowing.
The 16-day festival is a huge tourist draw for this southern German city. This year, 6 million visitors from all over the world are expected to prowl Munich’s sprawling 31-hectare (77-acre) Theresienwiese grounds in search of a coveted seat inside the beer tents or to the pretzel and sausage stands.