Munich’s Oktoberfest has tighter security than previous years, but thus far, the festivities are going smooth, according to officials.
Oktoberfest 2016 opened its doors on Saturday in the Bavarian city of Munich in Germany and will run through October 3. About half a million people flooded into the 14 tents at the fairground to drink beers, party, and discover new tastes.
The event opened under heavy clouds of rain and the fear of terrorist attacks. There have been many deadly attacks in Germany, France, and Belgium in the past months.
While a majority of the Syrian refugees, who were welcomed into Germany by Chancellor Angela Markel, have been quietly living their lives, going to work, and sending their children to school, few others have been perpetrating ISIS-inspired attacks.
In July, a teenager massacred nine people in a shooting rampage in Munich, and two other attacks by sympathizers of the terrorist group followed. Another 15 people were killed during a suicide bombing in Ansbach.
In response to these horrific events, officials in Munich have tightened the security around the event to make sure all goes as planned. Organizers have hired more security guards, at least 450 of them, ensuring safety at the Oktoberfest, last year there were only 250.
They have also erected a metal fence, banned large bags, and installed more surveillance cameras. This year’s visitors must go through security checks to enter the festival grounds. The July 14 attack in Nice, France has prompted Germans to install electronically controlled bollards to prevent trucks and cars from entering the festival ground.
The security comes at a high price; it is estimated that officials will spend over 3.6 million euros to keep the event safe. Josef Schmid, Munich’s deputy mayor and managing director of the Oktoberfest, said:
“Security is our highest priority. Munich would not allow anything to put a dampener on their festival”.
Next year the prices at the festival will skyrocket. A spokesman for the beer-sellers Roiderer stated:
“The Oktoberfest can not be done on the cheap, that much is obvious. All additional costs will be reflected in the product price. For instance, a beer, served in one-liter jugs, will this cost between 10.40 and 10.70 euros.”
While there are no real threats on the Oktoberfest, many have canceled their reservation to the event. According to reports:
“Hotels say bookings have declined; Oktoberfest table reservations are being canceled; clubs are pulling out of taking part in the Oktoberfest procession and invited celebrities are backing off: the fear of terror attacks has taken hold of Munich’s Oktoberfest.”
Those at the festival said they would not have missed it for the world. Nico Baunbach, a 34-year-old exhibition manager from Munich, said he will not let the terrorists win. He told local media:
“Personally, nothing that has happened has changed my opinion about coming to the Oktoberfest.”
Germans are starting to voice their opposition to Merkel’s immigration plans.