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<TD>Oktoberfest beer drinking dips as volume lowered
Mon Oct 3, 2005
MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Despite having an extra day to celebrate, revelers drank less of Germany's favorite tipple at this year's Munich Oktoberfest tribute to beer which ended Monday.
Some 6 million litres of beer -- enough to fill around six Olympic-sized swimming pools -- were downed by the 6.1 million visitors to the festival in the Bavarian capital. That was about 100,000 litres below the 6.1 million litres in 2004.
The 172nd edition of the event was extended beyond the usual 16 days to 17 this year because Monday is the German Unification Day holiday. But unseasonably cool weather and strict limits on the music volume before 6 p.m. kept consumption down.
Local tabloid newspapers criticized organizers for dampening the noise of the famous oom-pah brass bands, however officials said it helped cut the drunken violence seen in previous years.
"We never promised anyone a giant techno disco here," said Munich mayor Christian Ude.
"I don't know how anyone could call this a 'snore fest' or a 'whisper fest'," Ude added, referring to the tabloid criticism.
Police reported a drop in assaults, with 248 this year compared to 351 last year. The number of criminal acts fell to 1,304 from 1,690 in 2004. There were 22 incidents of sexual coercion, down one, but three rapes, in increase from two.
"When the music volume is lower people tend to drink a bit less but instead eat more," said Gabriele Weishaeupl, head of the Munich tourism office that runs Oktoberfest. The number of cows slaughtered rose to 95 from 89 a year ago.
The origins of the Oktoberfest date back to 1810 when a lavish five-day celebration was held all over Munich to mark the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig.
Since then it has evolved into an annual celebration of excess, with tens of thousands gorging on sausage and pretzels, swaying to oom-pah bands and tippling till they topple.
There were 4,000 items left behind in beer tents this year, including a set of dentures, two crutches and one wedding ring.