July has been a month full of festivals in our area of Germany. Summer festivals, cherry festivals, spieβbraten festivals, church festivals, lake festivals and of course fisher festivals! Some of these events are meant to celebrate a seasonal food, harvest, or floral bloom and others are just for community spirit. The food celebrations are the best (of course) because of the delicious food but also because in Germany the grocery stores stock only in season fruits and vegetables so they are really a treat. You cannot buy a watermelon in December, and you can only buy white asparagus during the April/May season. So as the strawberries disappear from the shelves I have noticed them being replaced with Johannisbeere, John’s berries, aka red currant. Side note- they are too tart for Brock but made a great sauce for our pork roast the other night.
These celebrations are very small, mostly because although they are open to the public they are often intended to be a social gathering for people who live in that village. The only way I have discovered many of these little events is by seeing a banner in the town as I drive through and by small advertisements in the local district paper.
Our town, Hoppstädten-Weiersbach, has been especially busy with a sports fest, two fisher fests, and upcoming on August 1st & 2nd are wheel barrel races! Hoppstädten-Weiersbach is a really nice community that has a very interesting history (more on that later). Hoppstädten and Weiersbach were two separate villages until 1969 when they, combined with the smaller Bleiderdingen and Neubrücke, joined together. Because of that reason Hoppstädten and Weiersbach each have their own fisher fest since each also has their own fishing club. In Germany, to fish you need to be a member of the local club, or in larger areas purchase a day pass so the clubs are very important. Fil is a member of the Weiersbach club and to be a member he must volunteer 3 days a year at one of their events, fundraising or river clean-up, and of course pay a hefty fee. Our village is located along the bank of the Nahe River and it is said that Weiersbach hosts one of the best fisher fest around. So it’s on… who has the best fish?!
For this fish battle royale I will be showcasing 3 fisher fests and you can help me decide which is best.
Our first fest was the Weiersbach festival. Something about walking with your husband, baby in the stroller, through town to a festival down by the river is just so sweet. The festival was quite large (so says my German friend). There were two beer tents, one with bottles and one with tap, a wine lounge in the club house, a grill station with meats from our local butcher, the fish fry station, a bandstand, and beer hall tables set out (German style picnic tables). Now my German friend said it was large, but I am sure the whole event could have fit in my parents front yard ;). The band was great! The Hoppstädten music club played traditional German folk music but also did a compilation of Michael Jackson, Grease, and songs from action movies (Rocky was first). This link will give you a taste of the folk songs. Listen to it and picture yourself at rivers edge with a beer in hand and a plate of fish. Moments like this I will miss when we do leave.
We set up Brock in his travel highchair with some blueberries, Fil got us some beers, and then I went up to wait in line for our fish. They had 4 skillets pan frying brown trout 7 at a time. For 5.5 € you got a whole fish, pan fried, and a roll served on a ceramic dish with real utensils. The fish was DELICIOUS. The trout was fried whole and done so that you could eat the skin like a buttery cracker. Inside was an herb butter that only made it better. I had to share mine with Brock, but it was totally worth it to see how much he likes trout! It was really hot that day so we had a few more beers before walking home, but the whole afternoon was so much fun.
The next weekend was the fisher fest in Heimbach, the village next to us headed towards Baumholder. A fine example of what I meant by, “open” but really only for locals. My friend from our village was invited to this one by friends of her husband who live there and she asked if we wanted to come too. Fil couldn’t, but I gladly accepted! I am glad she offered because I saw the advertising sign as I drive through on our way to Baumholder but I didn’t know where it was in the town… and after following her to the clubhouse I don’t think I would have found it on my own! The event was half the size of Weiersbach, had only one beer tent and was playing music on a stereo—not a live band.
It was not as picturesque as Weiersbach but I had so much fun with them. Sara is a great friend and we always have a good time together. She and her husband were very nice and paid for my meal, so I can’t tell you how much it was, but I had a beer battered, deep fried fish with possibly the best potato salad I have ever had with a beer. The fish was not local like it was in Weiersbach, and nobody could give me an answer as to what it was but it kind of tasted like a rock fish. The meat was large, white and flaky and so big I couldn’t finish.
The last of the fests was the next weekend back in Hoppstädten-Weiersbach at the Hoppstädten club, just in time for Jan’s first weekend in Germany! Just outside the village limits we parked in a field along the river and set up at our table. Beer and pan fried trout was on the menu and yes, it was delicious! It was not as delicious as Weiersbach, but still good in its own right. This fish was super buttery and melted in your mouth. Overall the festival was very pretty along the river offering a playground for the kids, but the plentiful wasps and flies took away from the pleasure a bit. Also, the music on stereo was American pop so we dined to Whitney Houston’s eternal love.
So what do you think? Weiersbach, Heimbach, or Hoppstädten?I honestly couldn’t tell you which is best, they were all so much fun with great company, music, beers, and amazing fish.
P.S. our village now has a brewery! Their first brew just became available at the local grocery store. Don’t worry Dad, I will have a fresh liter for you to try next month when we see you!