Springing into Springfest
Fruhlingsfest (Springfest) is basically a mini Oktoberfest, with less rides, people and hype, but with more authenticity and intimacy. Essentially, it was created because the Bavarian town folk were bored and wanted to host pre-drinks.
The festivities involve a week of flea markets, firework displays, rides, bratwurst and German candy stalls and various activities related to the almighty beverage that is beer. Beer pong, beer halls, beer gardens, beer-battered schnitzel, beer-influenced singing to Que Sera, Sera on tables with chunky German men and beer-induced loss of directions to get back to camp.
Stoke draws many fun-hunting youths to their campsite outside the festival grounds, so the party doesn’t stop at the close of the beer halls. The camp’s bar serves unlimited booze all hours of the day and night, meaning pacing yourself is a definite must, though the free alcohol is a great confidence booster and helps you meet some extremely hilarious friends. A few American exchange students asked me if the tents we were sleeping in outside were waterproof. Naturally, taking advantage of their poor demented souls, we later convinced them that our Stoke chef has cooked for the Queen of England and that Australians breed sheepdogs in the outback for our main food source.
It was after I had my breasts painted into ladybugs that I realised I might have consumed one-too-many steins. Like most bizarre scenarios that happen in my life, it seemed like a good idea at the time. My cleavage was out for some fresh air, pushed up by the tight strings of my traditional German dirndl, and the artist was a lady wearing flowers in her hair who had long forgotten what a bra was. I returned to camp from the festival and passed out in a teepee.
I know what you’re thinking. SpringFest is in spring, which means warm weather and flowers, trees and deer frolicking around green fields. Naively, so did I. For the first few days. we pulled mattresses out of our tents and basked in the warm beams of sunshine. The next few days hit us with freezing temperatures, causing us to swap mattresses for sleeping bags and begin using them as makeshift coats. A few nights of thunder struck, heavy rain pitter-pattered on the flimsy tents and all off the grounds became slushy mud paths. Every now and then when the sun would creep through the clouds, you would find people sprawled around the campground like lizards lured to the warmth.
Despite the hostility of the German weather gods, the festival continued, as the show must go on. Drunken rides were taken on belly-wrenching, spinning roller coasters as we pretended we were flying high above the city lights. Not only was Springfest a memorable time, it was also an educational time, one where I learned that beer-bonging sangria is not a very wise decision and a children’s face painter should probably stick to painting faces.