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Welcome to the Cannstatter Volksfest

Every year Stuttgart kicks off the beginning of fall with the Cannstatter Volksfest - the second biggest festival of its kind in Germany. The 171th edition this year runs from September 23 through October 9.

The 17-day even is largely about drinking, dancing and fairground rides - but otherwise visitors can look forward to everything from fried chicken to a freefall tower (best not combine them!) at the funfair. The ten main tents can seat around 35,000 people.

A spokesman for the organizers says there’s no competition with the more famous Oktoberfest in Munich: "We’re smaller and more intimate, and get a different kind of clientele."

Up to 4 million people visit the festivities every year. The organizers estimate the Italians account for the biggest foreign contingent, with large numbers of revelers also coming from Britain, Switzerland and France.

A traditional liter-glass of beer costs €9.90-€10.20 this year. But there are also two special tents serving wine and sekt (sparkling wine) from the local Württemberg region.

Visitors get through half a million chickens each year. But vegans don’t need to go hungry either, with some tens offering the likes of deep-fried corn nuggets.

Things get a bit historical on parade day. 100 festival groups march through the Stuttgart neighborhood of Bad Cannstatt in a variety of outfits. Visitors can also do a bit of shopping for art, jewelry and other potential gifts at a specially built market.

Dirndls will be available for hire for the first time this year. The traditional ladies’ costumes can be ordered online or tried out on the spot. There’s even a line specially created for the festival: a mix of old Württemberg dresses and the latest dirndl trends.

The main landmark of the festival is a wooden pillar decorated with fruit, vegetables and cereals,towering over the grounds. Representing the advent of harvest time, the pillar’s history goes back to the very first festival in 1818.

As at all similar events these days, security has been stepped up. This year the police has doubled its presence, while also installing 10 cameras and checking backbacks at the entrances. There is apparently no concrete danger, however.

is/ks/fl (dpa)

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