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Munich’s Oktoberfest sees 3.6 million visitors so far

- Associated Press - Sunday, September 30, 2012

BERLIN (AP) — This year's Oktoberfest folk festival already has attracted an estimated 3.6 million visitors, Munich officials said Sunday.

A total of about 6 million visitors are expected to celebrate the 16-day extravaganza, now half over, officials said, but the beer festival's start indicates the final number might well be higher.

The Oktoberfest is best known for its bands of oompah music playing in cavernous tents; local men wearing traditional Bavarian Lederhosen, or leather shorts; and women in bright dirndls.

This year's visitors have consumed 3.6 million one-liter (two-pint) mugs of beer so far. A mug, called a "Mass" in German, of the malty pale beer sells for up to 9.50 euros ($12.30).

Last year's 6.9 million visitors downed almost 8 million mugs.

While the Oktoberfest's main draw is the towering mugs of beer, many visitors, especially families, often flock to the Oktoberfest for its fairground attractions such as roller coasters.

Visitors at this year's Oktoberfest, the 179th, mostly came from Germany, neighboring countries, Italy, the United States, Asia, New Zealand and Australia so far, the city said.

The lost-and-found office said it already counts more than 300 wallets, 200 cellphones, 50 cameras and two wedding rings on its shelves.

Security guards hindered visitors from stealing beer mugs — a popular souvenir for tourists — in 63,000 cases, the city said.

The fairgrounds are spread over about 75 acres and can accommodate hundreds of thousands of people at a time.

German authorities keep security tight, while saying at the same time that no risks are expected.

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