The Volksfest is a traditional harvest festival; it began in 1818, and it is now the second largest in the world (after Munich's Oktoberfest). It is only 16 days long, but it attracts over 4 million people every year. We counted for three of those.
The huge fruit column stands in the middle of the fairgrounds and is famous as the symbol of the festival since its beginning.
We were immediately struck by the bright colors and classic feel of our surroundings. In some ways it felt like a festival before our time. Perhaps you've been festivals in the States and felt, "They just don't make 'em like they used to." Well, for the Volksfest, they do.
One festival tradition is to buy a heart-shaped cookie with a message written on it for your 'sweetheart.' We saw many people walking around shamelessly with the cookies hanging around their necks. Candy stalls selling these cookies were everywhere.
We decided we had to buy one.
Ich liebe dich = I love you
Penelope wore hers proudly.
Of course the real reason most people attend the Volksfest is for the beer. There are seven huge and elaborate beer tents, each seating between 3000 - 5000 people and sponsered by different German beer makers. They all brew a special beer just for the festival. Each tent has a character of its own. Various "bands"--I guess that's what you'd call them--play German folkmusic on a stage in the center of the tent. And they are very serious about it. At various points the crowd would erupt in toasts, clapping, and horrays. Often what they seemed to take so seriously we found absolutely hilarious.
The beer, of course, was huge. One liter, when it sits in front of you, is bigger than you could ever imagine.
The food was just as wonderful and big as the beer. The most popular dining option was a full roasted hen, a roll, and a liter of beer. By popular I mean that almost everyone had it, irrespective of age or gender.
Penelope was mesmerized by all the lights and sounds.
As the sun went down the bright lights made everything even more magical.