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TAPS OPEN IN MUNICH FOR OKTOBERFEST

Munich on Saturday kicked off its annual two-week beer party known as the Oktoberfest, with the mayor tapping the first barrel.

Up to 7 million visitors are expected for the festival, featuring 14 tents for an orgy of drinking, sausage-eating and Bavarian folk music.

A liter of beer -- the standard Oktoberfest mug measure -- is priced at up to $5.70, an average of 21 cents more that last year.

To loud cheers from revelers, Munich Mayor Christian Ude tapped the first beer keg with three strokes from a wooden hammer and handed the first mug to Bavarian Gov. Edmund Stoiber.

The Oktoberfest, which ends Oct. 3, dates back to 1810, when a five-day celebration toasted the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I of Bavaria, and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

In those days, though, the beer was free.

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