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Festhaus Recipes


How many of you love food served at the Festhaus?  Silly question right?

To those who were not old enough to remember when the park opened in 1975, it may come a surprise to learn that the Festhaus was not officially “there” until 1976.   It also opened with along with the rest of the Oktoberfest section of the park.  Der Marketplatz, Die Autobahn, The Trabant (Der Blitzschneller), Die Schwarze Spinne, Der Wirbelwind, Das Wirbelwindchen, the Arcade, all the skill games, Der Roto Baron, and the Schwartzkopf Wildekatze coaster.

Oktoberfest opens!

Oktoberfest opens!

Oktoberfest was a success for the park and so was the food!

Back in 1979, the park published a cook book that was written by the creative brains behind the Festhaus menu.

Yes.  A cookbook for the Festhaus… the glory of it allin vivid color and text!

Let us take a moment to thank Festhaus Chef Karin Elliot and Velma Wong (pastry chef) in a quiet meditation.  Think of bratwurst with sauerkraut, a side of German potato salad, and a big old slice of German Chocolate Torte cake.

Top Chef Masters

Top Chef Masters

Sadly, this book is no longer in production and chances are that the only place you may run across it is in a used book store or in a thrift shop book bin.  Speaking of, Kelly Sweeney Osato, one of the readers of BGW Memories, found this lovely book in a thrift shop and decided to cook her own “Oktoberfest” Feast right at home.  Even better, she sent in photos of the fruits of her labor.

I bow to her culinary skills!

This is a feast!

This is a feast!

After reading carefully over my own copy of the Festhaus cookbook; I discovered that in order to properly cook traditional German food, the chef must possess a ton of patience and fee time.  Also, the directions can seem vague and difficult to follow.  However, after seeing the results from Kelly’s triumphant Top Chef Victory, I may have to break out the crock pot and skillets.

The finished plate.

The finished plate.

For those daring enough to follow in Kelly’s footsteps: Be aware that many of the ingredients may not be easily found at a grocery store.  You may have to go to a specialty, international grocery store.  Also, cheesecloth and numerous hours of simmering, pickling, and refrigeration are required for many of the dishes.

So, don’t go expecting an instant Festhaus meal in minutes!  Nope. This is hard work; home cooking.  Busch Gardens style….. and it is not for the faint of heart!

The reason I am spending my free time typing out this book, is to  provide everyone the chance to experience this long forgotten treasure.  I plan on making installments to this post with chapters being added every so often.

He's a keeper!

May the spirit of Oktoberfest be with you all!

Ein prosit, ein prosit, der Gemutlichkeit!


Busch Gardens Postcard featuring Bob Bauman.

Spoiler Alert:  I found out why that German Potato Salad is so good; BACON!  Yes, a good ol’ cup of bacon and the grease is simmered to make the sauce.  Even in Germany, bacon always makes things better!
Disclaimer: Please do not email with questions about the recipes and how to cook things.  I really don’t know.  Check Google.  It is a better chef than I am!
I should also mention that I am doing this in the spirit of Busch Gardens fandom and no money is being made by me or anyone that may help me with this little endeavor of mine.  Since the book is no longer in publication, I thought it would be acceptable to share my treasure with you all.

Busch Gardens Festhaus Cookbook


Published for Busch Gradens


Taylor Lewis & Associates



Recipes provided by Festhaus Chef Karin Elliot and Velma Wong, pastry chef. The Old Country

Photographs taken by Taylor Lewis in Germany at The Old Country Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia.

Editor: Joanne Young

Designed by Ahia

Food Stylist, Dora Jonassen

First printing Copyright 1979

By Taylor Lewis & Associates

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America


Oktoberfest opens!

At Busch Gardens Festhaus, every day’s Oktoberfest – the happy season of good food, good fellowship, dancing and song.  In Germany, where Munich’s huge Festhaus tents on the Theresienwiese are the heart of Oktoberfest, the holiday extends for sixteen glorious fall days as it has done since 1810.  In that auspicious year, Bavarian King Maximilian proclaimed a public celebration of the marriage of his son to a Saxony princess.

Such a happy custom was too good to abandon when the wedding was over, coming as it did when the harvest season when the hops were in and Munich’s famous breweries were turning out kegs of golden beer.  Today, the first Keg is tapped by the Lord Mayor to signify the opening of Oktoberfest.  Brass bands play, carousels turn, roller coaster cars soar up and slide down.  Young and old lock arms and sing, swaying to the music or raise their own on-litre steins (the only size allowed on Munich grounds) in merry toasts of “Ein, Zwei, Drei, Prosit!”

Germany’s famous wurts are in mouthwatering abundance, along with spicy sauerkraut, red cabbage, and tangy hot potato salad.  Over all hangs the tantalizing fragrance of barbecued beef, roasted daily on huge spits.

Join the fun at Busch Gardens Festhaus and when you go home, have your own Oktoberfest with the help of these authentic German recipes.

Table of Contents


Food for Oktoberfest and other German Recipies

Oktoberfest History

Soups and Salads

  • Potato soup
  • “Clear Across the Garden” Soup
  • Noodle Soup
  • Chef’s Salad Dressing
  • Herring Salad
  • Carnival Coleslaw with Apples
  • Beet Salad
  • Hot Potato Salad

Favorite Side Dishes *to be added soon

Meat, Poultry, and Fish  *to be added soon

Breads and Pastries  *to be added soon

Miscellaneous  *to be added soon

Festhaus Songs *to be added soon





Potato Soup


Potato Soup


4 Medium potatoes

1 medium cucumber

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 cups cold water

2 small green onions

1 ½ cups half-and-half cream

½ teaspoon dried dillweed

¼ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon celery salt

Peel and dice potatoes and boil till soft in salted water.  Peel cucumber, remove seeds, and chop.  Mix with finely chopped onions.  Place large sieve over bowl and pour potatoes and cooking water through.  Reserve several table-spoons of cubed potatoes to give soup texture, and press remainder through sieve and mix with cooking liquid.  Return to saucepan.  Add cream, seasonings, cucumber and onions, and simmer over very low heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently.  Garnish with thin cucumber slices and a dash of dill.


Clear Across the Garden Soup

Clear Across the Garden Soup


“Clear Cross the Garden” Soup

(Quer durch den Garten Suppe)

4 cups of beef stock (or 4 cups bouillon)

1 onion sliced thin

½ tablespoon chopped parsley

3 tablespoons of butter

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup sliced carrots

½ cup chopped cabbage

½ cup cubed potatoes

Salt and Pepper to taste

The best thing about this soup is its versatility.  Walk clear across the garden, pick whatever vegetables are in season and add them to the soup!  This can include green beans, limas, brussel sprouts, zucchini, spinach, turnips, green peas, or whatever you like.

Sauté celery, onion, carrots, and cabbage in butter.  Add to soup stock or bouillon), add mix to potato cubes and parsley.  Then add your own variety of vegetables plus cubes of meat left-overs (or sauté 1 cup cubed beef round with vegetables if you like).  Simmer until potatoes are tender.  Serve with herbed croutons or slices of fresh homemade bread and butter for a complete meal.

For variety: Add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, or 1 cup of fine noodles, or ½ cup alphabet macaroni. 



Noodle Soup


Noodle Soup


4 pounds beef chuck with bones

2 quarts water

2 leeks

2 large carrots

2 stalks celery with leaves

½ large onion

½ teaspoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon salt

1 bay leaf

1 pinch each of marjoram and thyme

2 sprigs parsley (or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes)

4 ounces thin noodles

½ cup sliced carrots

Cut meat off bones and reserve.  Cover soup bones with cold water and bring to boil in sauce pan.  Strain off water, cover soup bones with 2 quarts fresh water, and continue cooking.  Tie leeks, carrots, celery, onion, and herbs into cheesecloth square, and place in soup pot along with salt.  Simmer for an hour, then add meat which has been cut into cubes and sear on all sides in a very hot skillet.  (German cooks prefer to sear the cut side of onion the same way before tying into cheesecloth bag, but this method is optional).  Continue simmering for at least two more hours, skimming as necessary.  Correct seasoning and cool.  Remove fat congealed on top before making the soup.

Heat stock to boiling, then remove meat with slotted spoon and keep warm.  Add ½ sliced carrots and cook until partially tender.  Add very thing noodles, approximately 1 ounce per cup of stock, stirring so noodles do not stick together.  Cook until noodles are tender and serve.  Pass meat cubes in separate dish, letting each guest add desired amount to soup bowl.


Chef Salad Dressing

Chef Salad Dressing


Chef’s Salad Dressing

(Salat Marinade)

1/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 clove garlic, mashed

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon carroway seed

1 teaspoon salt- dash of freshly ground pepper

½ cup chopped parsley

Chop Parsley very fine, wrap in cheese cloth, and wring out parsley juice.  Mix ingredients except sugar and parsley in bowl. Let stand for at least two hours.  Add sugar and parsley, and mix again.  Chill before serving over salad greens.

For variety: Add ½ cup finely chopped onion as a delicious marinade for fresh tomato slices; or pour over sliced boiled potatoes and garnish with crisp bits of bacon for a simple cold potato salad. 


Herring Salad

Herring Salad


Herring Salad


3-4 ounce jars marinated herring fillets

12ounce carton of sour cream

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon sugar

2 tart apples

2 small onions

½ teaspoon dillweed

Core but do not peel apples and cut into thin slices.  Peel onions and slice thin.  Drain herring fillets and gently stir into sour cream in bowl.  Add vinegar, sugar, apples, and onions.  Chill in refrigerator 4 to 5 hours, or overnight.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle dill on top, and garnish with thin apple slices if desired.


Carnival Coleslaw with Apples

Carnival Coleslaw with Apples


Carnival Coleslaw with Apples

(Karnival Krautsalat)

2 cups grated green cabbage

2 cups grated red cabbage

1 small orange, chopped

1 large apple, cored and chopped

2 medium carrots, grated

½ cup raisins

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

Grate cabbages and place in ice water to crisp while preparing carrots and fruit.  Do not peel apple- the red skins adds color and flavor to this bright salad.  Drain grated cabbage and dry between paper towels.  Toss with chopped orange and apple, grated carrots, and raisins.  Combine lemon juice with honey and pour over cole slaw, tossing lightly before serving.


Beet Salad

Beet Salad


Beet Salad

(Rote Beete Salat)

#2 can (16 oz) sliced beets

1 tablespoon super

1 tablespoon vinegar

½ teaspoon carroway seeds

1 small Bermuda onion, sliced thin

Drain beets and mix juice with sugar, carroway seeds, and vinegar.  Mix beet and onion slices together in bowl, stirring lightly.  Pour marinade on beets and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.

For variety: Add 2 tablespoons Burgundy wine to marinade.


Hot Potato Salad

Hot Potato Salad


Hot Potato Salad

(Warmer Kartoffelsalat)

6 large potatoes

¼ pound bacon (approx) to make 1 cup chopped bacon (uncooked)

1 cup chopped onions

2 cups water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup each pickle relish and chopped pimento

Boil potatoes then refrigerate about 6 hours.  Peel and slice.  Chop bacon and onion fine and brown in skillet till bacon is crisp.  Do not drain.  Add Cornstarch mixed with water to bacon grease, stirring till mixture thickens, and simmer for several minutes.  Stir in sliced potatoes and simmer until they are hot.

Breads and Pastries

Black Forest Cherry Cake

(Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte)

2 Cups Flour

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cups milk

½ cup butter

1½ teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

½ cup cocoa

½ teaspoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs, and measure rest of ingredients into bowl.  Blend on low, scraping constantly.  Beat 3 mintues on high speed.  Pour into two 9 inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-50 minutes.

Filling:  2 cups black cherries canned in heavy syrup; combined with 2 tablespoons of Kirschwasser.

Frosting: (Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte) pint heavy cream, whipped or 1 large container non-dairy whipped topping

Slice each cake round horizontally to make four layers.  Place one layer on flat plate.  Fill pastry bag with whipped cream and pipe a generous ring around the edge of cake layer and a large rosette in the center. Fill exposed ring of cake with cherry filling.  Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat.  Place third layer and top and frost the entire cake layer with whipped cream.  Crumble the fourth layer into fine crumbs and sprinkle on the sides of the cake.  Using whipped cream, pipe two rosettes on top of cake and top each with a maraschino cherry.  Garnish the center top of cake with chocolate curls.

Bavarian  Torte

(Bayrische Torte)

Use chocolate cake recipe for Black Forest Cake.. (see above)  or your favorite Devil’s Food Cake Recipe.  Bake on rectangular sheet cake pan at 350 degrees until cake pulls away from the edge of pan and toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean.  (About 25 minutes)  Cut cake into thirds so you have three equal rectangles.

Place one portion on cake board plate and spread with non-dairy whipped topping about ½ thick.  Place second portion on top and press down slightly to level off top.  Spread Second Layer with whipped topping and place third layer on top.  Frost top and garnish with chocolate sprinkles.


More to come!  Stay Tuned.  🙂

In the meantime- enjoy learning the lyrics to a Festhaus Song:

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus:
Eins, zwei, g’suffa . . .
Da läuft so manches Fäßchen aus:
Eins, zwei, g’suffa . . .
Da hat so manche braver Mann:
Eins, zwei, g’suffa . . .
Gezeigt was er so vertragen kann
Schon früh am Morgen fing er an
Und spät am Abend kam er heraus
So schön ist’s im Hofbräuhaus.

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!


Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!

Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!


  1. Shauna says:

    Does the book include a recipe for the roast chicken and chocolate cake they have. If so could you post it please.

    • noramarien says:

      I do not see the roast chicken as the original Festhaus recipes have roast pork and cornish hens. There is the German cake I believe you are asking for though. It is the big layered cake that is still popular today. I can post that one. 🙂

      • Jason Robins says:


        First thank you so much for sharing these recipes (and memories)! Did you ever get around to posting the chocolate cake recipe? When I was young we lived very close to BGW and went every year. My Mother who was German, loved that cake. It’s coming up on the 1st anniversary of her passing and I’d like to make this cake in her memory. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I would love the recipe if you have time to share it. Thank you again for the others.

      • noramarien says:

        Dear Jason, I am so sorry not to have been updating this blog as often as I had hoped. Thank you so much for your kind comments and I will type in and upload the Bavarian Torte Cake recipe just for you. There was also a Black Forest Cherry Cake that was popular in the Old Country days as well. Just in case, I will upload both. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I hope this cake recipe brings back good memories of her. Take care.

      • Jason Robins says:

        Thank you, so much! This has made my day! You really are helping to keep the memories of my childhood and my mother alive. I’m sure for others as well. I’m planning to take my son to BGW this year for the first time, to hopefully create some new memories. I’ll think of some way to pay your kindness forward. Thank you again!!!

  2. Jason Robins says:

    Four years later and I am STILL making this cake. Making it again this weekend for the holiday and remembered you had shared it here. In the past 4 years we’ve started our own family tradition of going to BGW for Christmas Town every year in Nov. Thank you again!

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