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It’s the last day of September, which means the Cannstatter Volksfest is in full swing.  That means that everyone and their brother or sister is donning dirndls or lederhosen and heading off to ride rides, drink beer, and listen to music while watching other people get drunk.  2018 is a special year, though.  200 years ago, the original Cannstatter Fest was held.  It started one day after King Wilhem I’s birthday, back when Stuttgart was nothing but a beautiful meadow on the banks of the Neckar River.  The Cannstatter Fest is still held in the same place it was held 200 years ago, but back then, it was basically an agricultural festival designed to stimulate the economy after the Napoleonic wars.

Because this festival has been going on for 200 years, the people of Stuttgart decided to do something special this year.  In downtown Stuttgart, at the Schlossplatz, a historic Volksfest started on September 28th and will run until October 3rd.  My German friend, Susanne, alerted me to this special celebration.  Today, Bill and I decided to check it out, with plans to visit the much bigger “Wasen” next weekend.

Below are some photos from today’s visit.  I also got some videos of the excellent brass band playing in the tent.  There was no heavy metal and very little drunkenness.  We had a wonderful time watching Germans drink beer, dance, eat delicious food ordered from menus in Schwabish, and sing along to classic folk songs.  Plenty of people were dressed in traditional garb.  I didn’t bother with my dirndl today, but I would have been right at home if I had put it on.

We were greeted by a large crowd.  Plenty of people came downtown to check out the traditional Volksfest.

There were plenty of old fashioned rides and stalls.

There was even a flea circus.

They had agricultural exhibits, that were a bit crowded.

Around this point, I smelled horses and wondered where they were.  I didn’t see them, but the aroma was unmistakable and intoxicating to this former horse crazy freak…

I was starting to get annoyed by the crowds and almost suggested to Bill that we bag it and find a nice quiet restaurant.  It might have been one thing if Bill would ride the rides with me, but he doesn’t like rides.  So if it means we’re walking around in crowds, I’d rather GTFO.

But then Bill spotted the large tent and we figured that was where the beer was…

We waited in a brief line behind these people.  My big bag got checked out and tagged…

And we walked into an old style tent, where we proceeded to spend the next several hours eating, drinking, listening to live band music, and watching lots of dancing.

As you can see, lots of people were enjoying themselves.

The menu was a trip.  It was entirely in Schwabisch.

That prompted Bill to make a face.

But we still managed to get delicious chicken and fresh bread.  I swear, this chicken is such a treat.  It’s moist, juicy, and perfectly seasoned.

Everyone was getting into the music.

This band was great!  I loved the bandleader, who promised there would be no heavy metal.

The kids were loving it.

And there was a songbook in Schwabisch, too.  People were gamely using it to join in…

Get down, son!

I did get a few videos of the band playing.  After I sober up, I might turn them into a video and put them on YouTube.  Or maybe not.  Depends on how cantankerous my computer is tomorrow.

I loved all the dancers!  Wish Bill would dance with me!

These two kind of stole the show.

Weeee!

I sing much better than I dance, but I didn’t try the Schwabisch…

I had to get one more shot of the band as we were leaving.  They were great!  I would much rather listen to a brass band than heavy metal, anyway.

 

At one point, I went to the restroom and was utterly charmed by two young people– a young man and a young woman probably all of about 20 years old.  She had beautiful long blonde hair and was dressed in a dirndl.  He had an earring, a goatee, and was wearing traditional dress.  As we waited our turns to pee, they started waltzing beautifully as the brass band played.  I wish I had gotten a picture or video of them.  They were dancing divinely and really adorable together.  I moved out of their way and watched for a minute before it was my turn to whiz.  I doubt I would have seen two Americans their age doing anything similar… although I will admit I haven’t been home in awhile.  They were so adorable, though.  Wonder if they’re dating… or are they just good friends?  They made me smile.

We left to big crowds, including at the bumper cars.

It was a beautiful day for traditional festing!

Maybe I should have ridden the rides.

 

I’m really glad we didn’t give up and go home.  I had a great time at the historic Volksfest today.  It was a memorable way to spend my Sunday, listening to great music, eating roasted chicken, drinking beer, and watching Germans enjoy the last of the great weather before it turns to shit in a few weeks.  I couldn’t help but feel a little choked up as I realize that pretty soon, I’ll be leaving beautiful BW for Hesse and the Rhein.  I know I’ll love it up there, too, but I must admit that the Stuttgart area has left an indelible mark on my heart.  It’s become the closest thing I’ve had to a real home in a very long time.  I’ll miss it terribly… but I look forward to visiting and maybe even moving back someday.

This festival is something special, so if you want to experience the historic Volksfest, I highly recommend visiting before it closes on October 3rd.  To be honest, if they did this every year, I’d choose it over the regular fest… but then, I’m kind of an old bat.  I might even eschew the regular fest over this one this year, but I need to get my money’s worth and wear my dirndl at least once a season.  Maybe I can talk Bill into wearing his kilt to the fest, too.

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