Wednesday, September 15, 2010


No, it's not a typo, I do mean fest and not pest...

Maybe it's because we live in a quaint little town on the Ruhr that still has an altstadt with half timbered buildings that the RAF missed on their bombing raids or maybe it happens in the larger towns and cities as well (- although I find that hard to believe) but during the warmer months certainly there must be a 'fest' of some kind in Kettwig every month.

A fest seems to me to be basically an excuse for expanding the beer access out onto the streets, although they do dress it up a bit more than that.

Last weekend we had the 'Brunnenfest', brunnen is German for fountain or spring...quite why in the middle of September we have to celebrate the area's abundance of natural springs &/or fountains I have no idea, but the basic premise for most of the fests is that on the Thursday/Friday the centre of town gets taken over with many many flat pack tables (I think every household in Germany (bar ours) has at least one such table with accompanying benches, that get hauled out everytime they're grilling - so that's at least once a week during clement weather)) and stehtisch (tall bar tables that you can stand at and rest your beer on) and of course bars, and side stalls to keep the children entertained while you drink all day and bratwurst/schnitzel/pommes/pancake stalls so that you have access to something to soak up all the alcohol you drink (and to feed the children to save you having to go home any earlier than necessary) The Brunnenfest is also accompanied by 3/4 stages which all have live music playing throughout the day and evening over the weekend (saves you having to make small talk whilst drinking eh?!)

Before the the descent into the depths of winter we'll have the Ruddernfest (or whatever it is it get called) when the Ruhr itself is the main feature of the weekend with the rowing club hosting a 2 day long regatta and the Lions Club have a duck race, of course there's beer & pretzels & schnitzel as well, you can't have a fest without the main ingredients.

After that there will be a small Weihnachtsmarkt, where mulled wine is the tipple of choice and the emphasis is on shopping rather than drinking, altough somehow most people manage to combine the both.

And I'm sure there's a 'Kurbisfest' squeezed into the calendar around what I usually call 'hallowe'en' when the town centre is bedecked with fake cobwebs and everyone drinks beer.

This year's Fest season started off in March with the Frühlingfest (spring fair) which described itself as a 'Life-Style-Fest with 3 stages' - so that'll be beer and music and maybe a fashion show then.
The Stauseefest in May came next, a bit like the Ruddernfest in October but just earlier in the year...
Then we had the Seefest in June like the Stausee & Ruddernfests - along the banks of the Ruhr, beer, food, stages for music.
In July we had the Kettwig Meile, now don't be lulled into thinking this isn't a fest, just because there's no fest in the name doesn't mean there's no beer tents or day long drinking and entertainment - oh no, this is the culinary fest of the year where lots of the local restaurants have mini restaurants out in the open air (hence it being in the summer, in the faint hope of decent weather - this year we baked on the hottest days of the year) tempting people with miniature versions of their signature dishes. Of course there are lots and lots of tables, bars and stages for entertainment too, wouldn't be a fest otherwise.

And that kind of wraps up the year fest-wise. This year we seem to have more than usual, or maybe I just didn't notice them as much in previous years? I've been trying to count them up and I think that by the time we get to the end of 2010 we'll have had 8 fests in Kettwig, it's a lot for a small town don't you think? Or maybe it's that many because it's a small town? All I have as a reference point is Abbots Bromley where we lived in England and there we had a yearly madness when the village got taken over by the 'Horn Dance' on the 1st Monday of September, and that was literally 1 day in the year, not a whole weekend repeated under different guises throughout the year.

Personally I think the Germans here just love to have an excuse to party and there's nothing wrong with that!

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