Bad Dürkheim: Durkheimer Wurstmarkt holds annual 'wine and swine' fest
There are two sides to the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt. There’s the traditional engorgement of locally made wine and piles of swine.And there’s the carnival side with rides, caramel corn and games where people can win stuffed animals. Merchants in booths try to sell cheap jewelry, cell-phone covers, umbrellas, even tighty-whities. It’s like a Wal-Mart sidewalk sale.The whole thing makes up the Wurstmarkt, a party that people in the Pfalz have celebrated for 570 years. Some European traditions have history.
This year’s fest began Friday and runs through Tuesday. It resumes this Friday and continues until Sept. 22, when fireworks conclude the event. Bad Dürkheim is 10 miles south of exit 18 on autobahn 6, less than an hour’s drive from Kaiserslautern, Mannheim, Heidelberg and Darmstadt.
Judging from the haircuts in the crowd last weekend, the Wurstmarkt is well liked by servicemembers and their families, but not overrun with Amerikaners.
“All the vendors are very user friendly,” said Lt. Col. Luigi Bievers, deputy commander of the 29th Support Group. “They work with you to make sure you get what you want.
“It’s big enough, but also small enough where you can split up [with your friends] and link up again,” he said.
Organizers call the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt one of the largest public festivals in Germany. It’s certainly large. Last Friday and Saturday nights, the midway was as jammed as the mosh pit at a Metallica concert. At times it got so crowded that it was impossible to take a step in any direction for several minutes.
But there’s a mellowness that pervaded the crowd. It’s like the grapes weaved a magic spell. There was no shoving. People were happy.
“The Oktoberfest [Munich’s famous beer celebration] is fun in its own right, but if you don’t get into a [beer] tent by 1 [p.m.], forget it,” said Army Capt. Oliver Soria, who works in the labor and delivery unit at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “But this is only an hour away. It’s very safe. The wine is good, the food is good and the beer is overflowing.”
Under the big tents, vendors sell wine in thick, half-liter glasses — Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Spätlese. A half-liter is equal to two-thirds of the typical bottle of wine. No wonder many Germans drink theirs half-and-half with sparkling water.
There are more than 150 kinds of wine to drink from 50 different winemakers.
The other face of the fest is the rides. A 160-foot-tall Ferris wheel called The Jupiter lifts riders up to where they can see downtown in one direction and vast grape fields in another.
The Take-Off is one where you sit down and spin as the ride goes up and down. It’d probably be best to ride the Take-Off before filling up on wine and swine.
Bands play in the big music tent. Saturday night, a band called the Party Express played songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Seger while about 2,000 people danced.
• What: Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt.
• When: Friday through Sept. 22.
• Where: Bad Dürkheim, Germany.
• Featuring: Dozens of different locally-made wines, an array of food including sausages, schnitzels, potatoes, rolls and desserts.
• Notable: A train runs from Landstuhl to Bad Dürkheim, and several servicemembers said it was a very convenient way to attend the fest.