Annafest: Take 3

The Annafest is Forchheim’s time to shine. Every July for 11 days, thousands of people flock to Forchheim’s Kellerwald to enjoy beer, Fränkisch cooking and live music under the trees. Suddenly the sleepy, cozy Kellerwald is the center of all the activity. During the Annafest many restaurants in the city actually close for a vacation because everyone is at the fest anyway. There is a Franconian saying and that is:

Annafest, alla dooch, Annafest.  

It means, Annafest, every day, Annafest. (The Frankisch word Dooch sounds more like dogh and means Day or in German –Tag.  If you say Tag (but say it more like tog) then really dull the t at the beginning to make it sound like a d, then really stretch the word out and dull the g at the end, maybe you can imagine how they got to dooch from Tag. Give it a try, you’ll at least crack yourself up.

Lots of people take the Annafest saying very seriously. Young and old alike stop by the fest for a little while each day. This year we made it 8 times-probably the most I’ve ever gone-not everyday, but not bad!

This is my 3rd year of “Annafesting” and I have to say this is the first year I’ve really felt like a local. When I first arrived in Germany in 2014, it was the day before the Annafest opened. Sounds great right? My introduction to living in a new country was a fest! But actually it was during my first Annafest that I realized I had actually moved away from everything familiar. Thorsten’s friends were warm and nice and I could understand that even in another language but being at the fest magnified the fact that I was a stranger. I saw Thorsten meeting up with his life long friends and realized that all my life long friends were thousands of miles away. I didn’t speak German yet and it was really crowded. So there were some lonely moments at my first Annafest. My second year at Annafest time I had a one month old baby. As a result I wasn’t ready to fest it up just yet. I did go a few times and even drank a Maß but my heart was at home with my little mouse.

This year, for the first time I have enjoyed the Annafest like it’s my very own fest. It’s familiar and I feel like I live here, like Forchheim is actually my town. It feels normal now to trek up the hill and enjoy a little nature and culture and socializing. I find it a happy occasion to celebrate the anniversary of my move to Germany each year.

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The Annafest always opens on Friday with a celebration called Anstich (in Franconia Ogstochn, in Bavaria Ozapft. I’m not even going to try to disect those words.) Someone important, usually the Mayor, uses a hammer type of thing to open the first keg of beer and officially start the fest.

This year we went on Saturday afternoon to meet some friends and sat together at the Eichhorn Keller near the street to watch as the local bands, clubs, politicians, and beer queens paraded through the Kellerwald, stopping at each Keller for a beer and a song. Little Mouse snacked with us, tried to drink some of my Radler (beer mixed with sprite) and then after a little walk fell asleep in her stroller.

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Speaking of Radler, this is something it took me a long time to like, but I have to admit that now I hardly ever order a regular beer at a fest. At fests you most often can only get a Maß (1 Liter) of beer. A Radler is a way to cut the amount of alcohol down and add a little sweetness. I admit I’ve become a bit of a beer lightweight.

That same evening I had a date with a some girlfriends for my first ladies night at Annafest. I was a little nervous because weekends are usually totally crowded and not that fun for a short person, but with my group of ladies and a good spot to drinks some drinks and watch the action, it was no problem and fun to boot! This was exciting for lots of reasons, but mainly because my German is good enough now that I can understand the others– even in a group and even when the music is really loud.

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A few years ago I made fun of the 90’s cover bands. I could not understand why the Germans would get so excited about a cover band playing 90’s hits from America. This year was a little different but it wasn’t the music that was different, — they still played 90’s hits– it was me. This time I danced and sang along too. Additionally they played lots of German pop music that I didn’t know. I really enjoyed this however, because it’s nice to hear a group of people singing and dancing and getting excited over their own music. Whether it’s German or English the real truth is that no matter your age, once you are with a group of friends, it’s pretty tough not to have fun dancing and singing and drinking and carrying on in the woods on a Saturday night.

The next morning we went early to the Annafest for a lunch at the Schloessla Keller with a couple that also have a baby. This is a nice keller for day time visits, the music is always good and there is plenty of space. They play some country, classic rock and I don’t know how you classify John Denver but they played his hit, Country Road, as we were leaving. Everybody sang along, especially me, and I felt 1000 percent nostalgic for home even though I don’t come from West Virginia.

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A few days later I went with some other mommies to Family Day. Food and tickets to the rides are discounted on family days. We spent a few hours walking around, looking at the children’s rides and eating bratwurst. Little Mouse is now a big fan of bratwurst (no surprise I guess) so it’s pretty easy to keep her happy in her stroller at the Annafest. It rained a little that day but not enough to dampen our spirits.

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Later in the week Thorsten and I got to have a date night while Heinz and Jola watched Little Mouse. Another couple joined us and we found a seat over looking one of the main drag right next to the band we like, the Kuhboys (Cowboys). They put a creative, Johnny Cash like spin on a lot of American rock. It’s pretty great. We took our annual ride on the Ferris wheel, which I love. You can see the twinkling lights of the whole fest from the top and there is always a wonderful breeze. Later we walked to watch some other bands and dance and sing along in the street. This is something that would’ve been tough for me before because standing around in the street is usually crowded and I often get bumped and pushed and nearly stepped on. But for some reason this year was not as full as usual. We think it is likely because of the recent onslaught of not so nice terrorist activities. Whatever it was–for me, a little less crowded wasn’t so bad. What’s funny is that it seems like every cover band at the Annafest plays Journey’s Don’t Stop Believe’in sometime during the set but usually as their last song. Every night ends with it and no matter how often people go to the fest–Everybody loves it every time.

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The last Friday of the Annafest we sat with some family friends in a great seat, overlooking the street at the Staeffala Keller. The music was nice and not too loud. We had a large wooden table and bench with a back, so Little Mouse could move herself around a little bit. She ate her fill of bread and bratwurst and even had some sauerkraut. Some of Thorsten’s old friends met us that evening. Little Mouse and I walked home early, leaving them behind to party it up like old times.

Saturday we had friend come from out of town and we all wore the traditional Bavarian clothes (Tracht.) Wearing traditional clothes is getting more and more popular every year. The traditional clothes for ladies (dirndl) create a very beautiful decote and the traditional clothes for men (lederhosen) are supposed to be very comfortable. What’s ironic to note is that these are not the traditional Franconian clothes at all– but it doesn’t matter. It’s fun and because the clothes are not the cheapest we are always looking for excuses to get more wear out of the them. Incidentally the traditional Franconian clothes for ladies usually have a high neck and a kind of funny hat-so it’s not that surprising that we haven’t seen a rise in the popularity of wearing them. Check out the photo below for an example.

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courtesy of folkcostume.blogspot.com

Since we were all dressed up, we started our evening with a little sparkle. We stopped by the one hut that sells very good German Sekt (J.Oppmann) and prosted together. Little Mouse enjoyed a pretzel–The first time she has pointed to a food that she wanted –very Bavarian baby, I guess. Then we sat at the Schindler Keller for dinner directly across from the Reisenrad. Very pretty view.

Our last family visit to the Annafest 2016 was Sunday for an early dinner. Little Mouse seemed relatively tuckered out and I have to admit I was too. Still we found a seat at our favorite Keller (The Glockenkeller) and had the most traditional food possible (Schäuferla, i.e pork shoulder, cooked til it’s falling off the bone. Fränkisch cooking at its absolute best.) So far, Little mouse hasn’t taken a liking to Schäuferla or Klöße but based on her other very German tastes, I think it won’t be long. We found a seat just in time to miss a big rain shower. Luckily it didn’t last long.

The last day of the Annafest Little Mouse and I took a walk through to eat a Bratwurst and look around before the fest closed.

The point of all of this is to say, it takes some time for a place to feel like home. It takes time to cultivate friendships and really know your way around. It takes time to feel comfortable, to not be scared to enjoy the little things, to be spontaneous.

The third time is the charm, they say, and this year it certainly was.

 

heartsig

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Annafest: Take 3

  1. Wow! That post made me homesick, even though we just got back from the annual Heimaturlaub!
    Radler – the only way to drink beer for me, lol. Sitting outside under the trees, eating greasy but oh so delicious BratwürstI, listening so bands with funny names playing creative covers of old hits … You described it all exactly how I remember it.
    I also loved your little lesson in Franconian dialect. Very hard to master for the “outlander” and, if you grew up with it, very hard to conceal – not that you wanted to. My parents, in their infinite wisdom, named my brother “Peter”. That poor boy is never anything but “Beder” to us.
    I said this before, I think: I would love to hear how Franconian you sound, lol!
    Doris (and owldee5 on Instagram)

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    • Aw Doris, Thank you! I hoped it would be a good description and I guess I succeeded! Yes the dull consonants is a constant joke between my husband and me about my mother in law and the Franconian dialect

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  2. John always said his music was “western.” BYW do you remember the connection Country Roads has to Gaithersburg ? I’m sure I told your class.

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      • Clopper Road is in G-urg on the opposite side of I-270 from Montgomery Village. It runs from down here all the way to the bridge over the Potomac up at Point of Rocks. Google Earth will show you …

        WAY BACK Kathy and I frequented free concerts in DC. I was teaching in Bethesda and we lived in Rockville. We became friends with a group called Fat City … actually a husband and wife team. Great music !!! Bill wrote almost everything they did and Taffy was a real cutie- pie with a dreamie voice.

        They eventually got hot locally and started playing at a place called Celler Door. One weekend John Denver was booked. The three of them hit it off big time. Struggling artists and all.

        On one of John’s later bookings Bill and Taffy invited John back to their apartment. Later on Bill shared that he had started a song for Taffy but was having trouble with a chorus.

        The song was about a trip out to a family reunion of Taffy’s. They had gotten off 270 at Mont. Vill Ave and took a Clopper Road. They could cross the river and then head on to West Virginia.

        So John starts in on a chorus. BUT … he says the title has to change. As is it is too regional. It had to be more general. John came up with Country Road. This was all on Frday night over night.

        The three of them did the song Saturday evening at John’s set. Bill and Taffy had opened. The croud went crazy !!!!! John told Bill he should recor it right away. But Bill didn’t have a contra I at the time. There three album was finished. ( I have all three. )

        John was on his third of three on his contract. He had one spot left. SO….. Bill gave John ……. and the rest is history.

        Bill told me this story. That song paid for their first house. John was kind enough to give them several different royalties, writing, etc.

        If you get the official video of Country Roads on YouTube, Bill and Taffy are featured.

        Bill and Taffy later teamed up with another husband wife combo, John and Margo, to form Starland Vocal Band. They were a “one hit wonder” with “Afternoon Delight.” The song implies some adult activists… but it’s actually about a particular ice cream sundae at Clyde’s in DC. Again Bill told me this story.

        Starland had a summer show one summer. The comedian was an unknown ….. David Letterman. Wonder what ever happened to him …..

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      • Wow! Think is a wonderful wonderful sorry on about a thousand levels. I bet you did tell us and I bet we didn’t listen because it wasn’t about Bonjovi or Debbie Gibson. And we didn’t find out what good music was until much later. Thanks for sharing it again! ❤️👏👏👏

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  3. Great article. I went to Annafest on Sunday and had a great time! I was in the country for a couple of weeks and found out about this fest online. I had no idea how great it would turn out to be. Walking up that hill and into the woods sort of threw me off at first. However, as I strolled deeper into the wooded venue, I realized I stumbled upon something unique. It was filled with great people, entertainment (love the cover bands), beer, and food. I felt fortunate to be able to partake, and imagine this is a much more authentic fest than Oktoberfest. I am not sure how many Americans know about this, but I sort of want to keep this fest my little secret.

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    • Hello Mark! Thanks for your great comment and description. Yes we always joke that Franconia really is a wonderful secret, the annafest included! There is really nothing like it. I’m interested to know about your trip through Germany. Do you speak German? Were you on vacation? So happy you got a chance to see the annafest in person. Thanks again for writing!!

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      • Hi Laurie! I started my trip in Munich the first week. I was there on business, working with our third party partners there in the EU (Linde gas). I had always wanted to go to Germany, as I have German roots on my father’s side of the family. I decided to take a couple of extra days to see the sights. I spent two days in Bamberg, which was extraordinarily picturesque! The next day I took the short drive to Forchheim to experience Annafest. I wrapped the trip up down in Schwangau to check out the Neuschwanstein Castle, which was absolutely breathtaking (both the castle/mountains, and countryside).

        Unfortunately, I do not speak German. I had been on the fence about whether to take German or Spanish in High School. My father (with German roots mind you) dissuaded me from it, saying Spanish would be more useful here in the US. He was probably right, but I wish I had it these past couple of weeks. I am definitely going to make my way back to Bavaria in the next year or two and motivated to begin learning the language.

        As a former Navy sailor, and by default a visitor of many European countries, I must say that my visit to Germany ranks as one of my favorite destinations so far. The scenery, people, food, and beer were all exceptional! I can’t wait to make it back… probably right around the time of Annafest lol.

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      • Hi Mark! It’s great to read about your experience. Yes Neuschwanstein is breath taking. I never tire of taking people to that area of Bavaria and Bamberg was a also great choice. It’s my favorite city in Franconia. German is a tough language to learn but there are tons of great tools. Check out Deutsche Welle on line to get started. Also Duolingo.com is a great tool. Good luck and Thanks again for reading!

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