Wendelinus fest celebrates 300th anniversary

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Ramstein-Miesenbach will celebrate the 300th anniversary of its annual Wendelinus fest from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the center of town.
“We don’t only celebrate 300 years of Wendelinus fest, but also 25 years of Wendelinus market,” said Ramstein-Miesenbach’s deputy mayor, Ludwig Linsmayer. “Ever since 1986, local store owners keep up the tradition of holding the market at the end of Ocotober and offer Sunday shopping.”

The history of Wendelinusmarkt dates back to the beginning of the 18th century when most village residents were farmers, and an epidemic threatened Ramstein’s cattle. People started praying to Saint Wendelinus, the saint of plague, who was asked for help in case of contagious diseases. They promised to celebrate the day of Saint Wendelinus each year if the epidemic would end.

The first celebration was on a Monday in 1710. People didn’t want to work that day and schools were closed. Relatives living outside of Ramstein came to visit, went to confession and listened to the fest sermon conducted by several priests from three altars, for 12 hours, without interruption.

Afterward, people stopped at the chestnut carnival in front of the church, where rosaries, crucifixes, prayer books, candles and chestnuts were sold. Years ago, the 12-hour prayer was moved to Sunday, and the local Catholic holiday lost its importance.

The market wasted away throughout the years until the Ramstein shop owners and businesses revived it in the fall of 1986. The new Wendelinus market with Sunday shopping was born.

Wendelinus market features about 100 vendors, craftsmen and store owners who present their merchandise on the streets in the center of town, which will be closed to motorized traffic. The event will officially open at 11 a.m. Saturday in the fest tent on Prometheusplatz with a worship service and the blessing of animals.

“Visitors can bring their pets and get them blessed,” said Stefan Layes, from the Ramstein-Miesenbach public information office. “This year’s Wendelinus fest will include three additional highlights. We were able to include a French market, a Hamburg fish market and an arts and craftsmanship village.”

The fish market, featuring vendors who  present their merchandise just like the vendors on the original fish market in Hamburg, will start at 11 a.m. today. Shoppers can enjoy listening to the screaming of Eel-Ole, Wurst-Heini, Cheese-Karla and Flower-Jan praising their goods.

The international arts and craftsmen village with 14 stands will be set up on the SBK parking lot. Basket makers, weavers, rope makers and masons will demonstrate former craftsmanship.

The French market on Steinwendener Strasse will feature French music, French culinary specialties such as meat pies, terrines, tarte flambee and crepes, as well as French champagne.

Other delicacies offered during Wendelinus market are bratwurst, grilled ham, pork roast, as well as Asian and Italian dishes. Together with the Ramstein Children’s and Youth Choir, the Kolping Family will sell coffee and homemade cakes.

“Like every year, all net profits will go the children’s cancer aid again,” said Mr. Linsmayer, who also is the chief of the Ramstein Kolping Family.

Customers will find a variety of merchandise in stands on the streets, and children can have fun in two rides. Stores will be open for Sunday shopping from 1 to 6 p.m.

Marching bands will provide musical entertainment Saturday and Sunday.
The local culture center, Haus des Bürgers, will celebrate its annual October fest today through Sunday in the big fest tent on Prometheusplatz. The party power band, Die Büddenbacher, will perform at 8 p.m. today and the Habachtaler, and a regionaly renowned band will present party hits Saturday night. Advance tickets at the Haus des Bürgers cost €7; tickets at the door are €9. Visitors arriving dressed in the traditional lederhosen or dirndl will receive a free drink. On Sunday starting at 11 a.m., the band Die Fuchshecker will entertain the audience for free.

For details on the October fest, visit oktoberfest-ramstein.de.
“We hope to be able to welcome a lot of visitors to all this activities throughout the weekend,” Mr. Linsmayer said. “Maybe some of our American neighbors even show up in lederhosen and dirndl.”