Subscribe
A traditional serving of white asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce and served with boiled potatoes as served at the Spargel- und Grillfestival in Weiterstadt, Germany.

A traditional serving of white asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce and served with boiled potatoes as served at the Spargel- und Grillfestival in Weiterstadt, Germany. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

A traditional serving of white asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce and served with boiled potatoes as served at the Spargel- und Grillfestival in Weiterstadt, Germany.

A traditional serving of white asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce and served with boiled potatoes as served at the Spargel- und Grillfestival in Weiterstadt, Germany. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

When you see the happy asparagus flags along the highway, you will know you have found the Spargel festival in Weiterstadt, Germany. And yes, the strawberry season follows the asparagus season.

When you see the happy asparagus flags along the highway, you will know you have found the Spargel festival in Weiterstadt, Germany. And yes, the strawberry season follows the asparagus season. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

The Weiterstadt, Germany, Spargel- und Grillfestival, or as it bills itself, the largest asparagus restaurant in the world, is a good place to enjoy the seasonal vegetable. It is also a nice place to relax after work.

The Weiterstadt, Germany, Spargel- und Grillfestival, or as it bills itself, the largest asparagus restaurant in the world, is a good place to enjoy the seasonal vegetable. It is also a nice place to relax after work. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

Suppose you live in an area where, from the end of April to the middle of June, a popular seasonal vegetable is grown. Well, if you are farmer Peter Lipp in Weiterstadt, Germany, and have fields full of asparagus, you organize an asparagus festival. Have local butcher Thiemo Hamm join in and you have the Weiterstädter Spargel- und Grillfestival, a fest in the true German tradition.

With its short growing season, spargel — German for asparagus — is a prized delicacy this time of year. Unlike in the States, where you usually eat green spears, in Germany, the white type is predominant. It grows in the long mound rows you see in the fields.

Unlike the green variety, the white spears have to be peeled before they are cooked and eaten. That might be one reason the Spargelfestival is popular: Someone else does the peeling and cooking. And because potatoes are the usual side dish, that’s even more peeling you won’t have to do.

The festival lasts through the growing season and takes place at the Steinbrückerhof, Lipp’s farm. A large tent has been set up for bad weather, and there is also outdoor seating at what the organizers claim to be the world’s biggest asparagus restaurant. There is a playground to keep the kids occupied, and the farm store sells vegetables and other produce besides asparagus.

You buy tickets for food and drink at a booth (or in the tent on slower days), and then pick up your order. It is bit of a pain standing in line twice, but the service is fast.

Your basic spargel dish is a plate of spears with Hollandaise sauce for 5 euros. Add a euro, and you get a portion of boiled potatoes to go with it.

Add another two or three euros to that, you get — this is where butcher Hamm comes in — a schnitzel, baked ham or roast suckling pig to go with your asparagus.

For those who don’t like pork, the spargel is also served with a chicken filet. Cream soup and salad round out the asparagus options.

Being a German fest, the Spargel- und Grillfestival also serves sausages, with the traditional Brat and the spicier Paprikawurst on the menu. White wine is the typical beverage with asparagus, but you won’t get a dirty look from fellow diners by washing it all down with a nice cold beer.

Don’t expect the Spargelfestival to be rowdy, because it is not. It is pretty much a family affair on weekends, and during the week, a lot of the office crowd comes out after work for an asparagus dinner and a quiet drink with co-workers.

After all, it is a festival celebrating a stalk that is harvested by hand, costs — as far as vegetables go — a premium price, and can be enjoyed fresh for only a couple of weeks each year. It’s an event to be savored — not gulped down

What do you do for a festival when you have no vineyards or brewery in your town?

A wine fest or a beer fest, two of the traditional civic celebrations of Germany, are out of the question.

But just suppose you live in an area where, from the end of April to the middle of June, a popular seasonal vegetable is grown.

Well, if you are farmer Peter Lipp in Weiterstadt, Germany, and have fields full of asparagus, you organize an asparagus festival. Have local butcher Thiemo Hamm join in and you have the Weiterstädter Spargel- und Grillfestival, a fest in the true German tradition.

With its short growing season, spargel — German for asparagus — is a prized delicacy this time of year. Unlike in the States, where you usually eat green spears, in Germany, the white type is predominant. It grows in the long mound rows you see in the fields.

Unlike the green variety, the white spears have to be peeled before they are cooked and eaten. That might be one reason the Spargelfestival is popular: Someone else does the peeling and cooking. And because potatoes are the usual side dish, that’s even more peeling you won’t have to do.

The festival lasts through the growing season and takes place at the Steinbrückerhof, Lipp’s farm. A large tent has been set up for bad weather, and there is also outdoor seating at what the organizers claim to be the world’s biggest asparagus restaurant. There is a playground to keep the kids occupied, and the farm store sells vegetables and other produce besides asparagus.

You buy tickets for food and drink at a booth (or in the tent on slower days), and then pick up your order. It is bit of a pain standing in line twice, but the service is fast.

Your basic spargel dish is a plate of spears with Hollandaise sauce for 5 euros. Add a euro, and you get a portion of boiled potatoes to go with it.

Add another two or three euros to that, you get — this is where butcher Hamm comes in — a schnitzel, baked ham or roast suckling pig to go with your asparagus.

For those who don’t like pork, the spargel is also served with a chicken filet. Cream soup and salad round out the asparagus options.

Being a German fest, the Spargel- und Grillfestival also serves sausages, with the traditional Brat and the spicier Paprikawurst on the menu. White wine is the typical beverage with asparagus, but you won’t get a dirty look from fellow diners by washing it all down with a nice cold beer.

Don’t expect the Spargelfestival to be rowdy, because it is not. It is pretty much a family affair on weekends, and during the week, a lot of the office crowd comes out after work for an asparagus dinner and a quiet drink with co-workers.

After all, it is a festival celebrating a stalk that is harvested by hand, costs — as far as vegetables go — a premium price, and can be enjoyed fresh for only a couple of weeks each year. It’s an event to be savored — not gulped down — and to be remembered until next spargel season rolls around.

On the QTDirections: The Spargelfestival is at the Steinbrückerhof on highway B-42 in Weiterstadt. Exit Autobahn A5 at Weiterstadt, or A67 at Büttelborn and follow signs to the festival site.

Times: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily until June 18.

Costs: Entrance and parking is free. There is a 2 euro deposit on plates and silverware.

Food: That is what the festival is all about: asparagus. But there is also bratwurst and fries for those who do not want asparagus, and crepes and cake. Wine, beer, soft drinks and coffee are also available.

Information: There is a German-language only Web site at www.spargelfestival.de. There are also asparagus festivals in Roth (post code 91154 — there are many Roths in Germany) on May 20; in Elfeld (near Geilenkirchen and Brunssum, Netherlands), May 25; Erpoltzheim-Dudenhofen, June 3-5; and in Lampertheim, June 10-12.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up