Germans and Bavarians in particular, really know how to live. I’m convinced that the Biergarten is one of life’s finest pleasures. I read an article one time describing the Biergarten as the outdoor living room of Germany, a description which I very much like. We’ve visited several Biergartens up in Munich and around our area; we have our favorites, but the one that I think I like the best happens just once a year in the tiny town of Obersteinbach.
It’s an adorable neighboring village; we have some friends who live there. The Gartenfest in Obersteinbach is, I believe, a fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. Everyone in the town gets involved in setting up the temporary Biergarten: the women tend to bake the cakes and serve the Biergarten tables; the men tend to work at the beverage and grilling stations. There’s live music (Bavarian, of course) performed by some of the locals and different groups of kids and adults perform dances. In particular, a group of men typically present the Goaßlschnalzen, or whipcracking in English, which I would describe as rhythmic whipping to music. It’s unique to Bavaria and Austria and apparently it’s significant in Bad Tölz during the well-known Leonhardifahrt. The first time I heard the Goaßlschnalzen, I was so impressed by the intricacies of the rhythms (and I still am!). I imagine it must take a lot of practice for a group to do it well.
Also at the Gartenfest, there’s always a special area for kids with crafts, art supplies and some games. Many of the people who attend the festival dress up in their Bavarian clothing (Dirndls for the women, Lederhosen for the men) and of course, all the families who work at the festival are dressed for the occasion.
This year we went for afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) although we could have stayed for dinner as well. There were all sorts of delicious food items one could order, from Bratwurst and rolls, to potato salad, to grilled meats and Obazda (a cheese spread made from camembert and usually flavored with paprika). I had a piece of Schmandkuchen, which is a cake made from a yeast dough, usually with fruit and then a layer of cream or pudding. Of course, we dressed Rosebud in her Dirndl and she looked adorable. I don’t have a Dirndl yet, but plan on buying myself one after Budlet arrives in the world.
What I like best about the Gartenfest in Obersteinbach is that it’s such a friendly atmosphere and we’re always sure to run in to friends when we go. It also showcases the best of Bavaria: friendly people who are proud of their local heritage and traditions, but without being touristy at all. It’s all about the local town, friendship and best of all, the joys of being in that outdoor living room, the Biergarten!