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STUTTGART, Germany — Some things never change.

Crazy carnival rides that will make your head spin; dozens of places to eat and drink; and four festival tents where up to 5,000 people sway to live music while toasting with heavy one-liter mugs of beer.

The 162nd Cannstatter Volksfest, Germany’s second-largest beer festival behind Oktoberfest, starts Friday night in Stuttgart and runs through Oct. 14.

But while the revelry can be counted on, organizers have thrown in a few twists to keep the program fresh.

Their goal? Stupid question.

“We don’t ask why we do it — it’s just a tradition,” said Katrin Henke, a Volksfest spokeswoman. “We want new things so people are amused, so we try to get some new attractions and, of course, as many people as possible.”

Henke said 3.3 million people attended last year’s Volksfest.

“It is very crowded on the weekends, especially when it is nice weather,” Henke said. “But not so crowded during the week.

“Weather is very important for (attendance on) the rides. For the restaurants and tents, (weather) is not a big thing because they’re sheltered.”

In other words, there is always a party going on inside the tents.

This year’s festival is starting on Friday night instead of the traditional Saturday.

The festival dates to 1818 when King Wilhelm I decided to throw a harvest festival to celebrate the end of many years of famine.

But there will be no famine at the Volksfest. More than 40 food vendors are expected, including nine “fast-food” restaurants with attached beer gardens. By fast food, we’re talking the Schwaben kind — bratwursts and rotwursts (sausages), maultaschen (stuffed pasta) and schupfnudeln (noodles with sauerkraut) among other traditional fare.

Oct. 4 and Oct. 10 are “family days,” with reduced prices.

If you goWhat: Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart.When: Daily Sept. 28 through Oct. 14. Hours: Noon to 11 p.m. weekdays, noon to midnight weekends and German holidays.Where: Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgart-Bad CannstattFeaturing: 30 amusement rides, four large beer tents with live music that hold up to 5,000 people, about 40 places to eat, including nine with beer gardens.Web site: (English version) (German version)


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