World’s biggest wine fest starts today

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image2***The 589th Wurstmarkt – the world’s biggest wine fest – will start today only 35 kilometers east of Kaiserslautern.

It will take place in Bad Dürkheim on the German Wine Street, and
besides a traditional wine fest, the event also includes a carnival
which lures more than 600,000 visitors from throughout Germany and

The event will be celebrated on the town’s festgrounds in two parts –
from today through Tuesday, and Sept. 16 to 19. It features a big
amusement park with a giant Ferris wheel and many other rides, food and
candy booths, fest tents, a wine village with wine tents and a
vintners’ garden. There will also be two fireworks displays, at 9 p.m.
Tuesday and Sept. 19.

The Wurstmarkt, sausage fair, received its name from the fact that
early fest goers ate enormous amounts of sausage during the event in
the first part of the 19th century.

However, the main attractions of the fest are 36 little wine tents
called “Schubkärchler,” wheelbarrows, because vintners rolled wine
barrels on wheelbarrows up to Michelsberg hill to quench pilgrims’
thirst in the 15th century.

Each year at the end of September on Michael’s day, pilgrims visited
the little chapel on top of the hill, which resulted in market
activities with many vendors selling their goods on the hill and along
the streets leading up to the chapel. When church dignitaries no longer
accepted this type of pilgrimage, market activities were relocated to
the bottom of Michelsberg, and the “sausage fair” was born.

In the year 1910, city officials decided to no longer celebrate the
fest on Michael’s day, but instead celebrated it earlier to take
advantage of better weather. In 1926, the Wurstmarkt was extended by
one day, then in 1951 by seven, and finally in 1965, the fest was
extended by eight days totalling nine days.

The fest officially starts at 5:30 p.m. today with an opening parade
leading from the Kurhaus to the festival grounds. The festival grounds
are located near the “Dürkheimer Fass,” the biggest wine barrel in the
world which houses a restaurant and could hold 1.7 million liters of

The “Schubkärchler” will open at 10 a.m. each day and vintners expect
visitors to consume more than 300,000 liters of wine during the
nine-day celebration. This Wurstmarkt will set a new record with the
serving of 261 wines (171 white wines, 54 red and 36 rosé wines) and 21
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