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Growing up I was a competitive roller skater. My mom used to drive us out to practice six days a week with us doing our homework in the car while cramming in an after school dinner. Twelve years of my life went to lessons, dance classes, and choreography. At the end of it all, I wasn’t able to go to the Olympics, get a scholarship, be a paid professional, or even have my face on a Wheatie’s Box. Roller skating never did anything more than to give me the ability to enjoy dance and various rhythmic styles.
You know what though… I’m Ok with that. I learned to dance like no one was watching.
Skating led me to appreciate all forms of musical performances. As a kid I knew all the lyrics and choreography in musicals such as Cats, Annie, and Phantom of the Opera. It is only natural that when I am Busch Gardens, I get to reconnect to that little part of my life again.
In my heart I sing along and dance with those on stage. Inside I sing like no one is listening.
Since my life has made it more difficult to ride rides like I used to, I find that I now gravitate more to the various shows at Busch Gardens. Luckily, the park offers more than thrilling coasters.
Despite the lady that ran the red light and changed my life, it’s helped me to love like I was never hurt.
So you see, this has brought me to reflect on the “theme park” entertainment profession in a deeper, more artistic level. For example: What kind of person spends their days practicing and going through a mountain of trials, just to get to be on stage at a theme park?
My educated guess:
Years of training, tons of auditions, call-backs, failures, successes, and then working a bunch of crazy hours in extreme conditions with an unknown rehiring status; all for a few months out in the spot light with a mere hope of the crowd appreciates what they do. No matter what, they perform like it’s heaven on earth.”
Musicians, singers, dancers, technicians, and stage hands have to work hard as a team to pull it all together. It takes fast learning to pull off learning the lyrics, choreography, lighting and sound cues, all within a few weeks before putting it all out in front of a packed theater. The competition is tough and the stakes are high. The directors, producers, and stage managers have an ever watchful eye; mostly for mistakes.
Yet, I look back to my life with all of those tedious hours of skating; my coach barking “Arch your back, point your toes, head up, one-to-three, on-two-three! AGAIN!! AGAIN!!”
It was like Abbey Lee Miller on Roller Skates. Much of it was rather tough for a kid my age but I honestly loved every minute of it. If you asked me now: “Do you want to go skating?” My answer will always be yes! It is in my blood forever.
You see, the people out there put themselves through this daily grind for the dream of it all. To make a living using what they love more in life. It is noble. It is inspiring and I wish from the bottom of my heart, that they all make it big.
I’ve spoken too many of the performers from various decades. They all share similar stories of “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” The job is hard. No matter how talented, young, or nimble you are, the schedules are grueling. Don’t forget that any profession has its fair share of politics and drama as well. I’m sure there is a TV spin-off that is just waiting to be made.
I’ve never performed at any theme park, but I imagine it is much like skating was. You work all year for a single performance (aka audition or competition) to either: 1) blow the judges away or 2) just go home with your tail between your legs. Either one opens the door for even more psychological drama. Even if you win… the pressure is on!
For example: I once ran across an old guide for entertainers back in the Old Country days. It was for a street performer and it was for a complete improve role in the 1980s. In a very “round about way” the job was summed up to this possibility: Congratulations for making it. Expect to be heckled and ridiculed, worst yet… ignored! Any stand up comedian, dancer, or performer will tell you this is so true no matter where or when they work somewhere out in the public.
I’ve witnessed the last one first hand.
In France, I watched these extremely talented musicians out playing for the crowds. People began walking in front of standing audience instead of going through the obvious pathway because they could care less.
There is also that awkward stare of “Whaaa?” And then they kind of shuffle off like the sight of a guitar is something never seen in this world. There is also the occasional (thankfully rare) individual that shouts out a rude comment now and then. Just like the booklet from the 80s said, it is all part of the game.
However I see that most people, regardless to how long they did stay, pause, listen, and smile before moving on. There are also those that sit and remain for the whole performance. That of course, is what keeps those in the field going. That mutual respect of performer and the audience. God bless them.
My hope is that this little story may change a few minds about those on stage working hard for your applause and praise. They pull on those hot, sweaty costumes every day to showcase their talents in hopes to forward them in life and to have that glorious sound of applause.
Even if you don’t like a show, consider it like going to a restaurant where you may have a bad meal, but the server is good. Tip the server! If the performers are out there giving 100%, even if you find the show droll, clap after they are done; don’t be shy. I promise they won’t bite! All of their hard work in life has led up to this moment of entertaining you. In fact, those working behind the counters and rides that smile and wish you a great day, even when the weather is miserable, are doing it for you as well.
Just remember that if you see something that makes you want to clap and sway in your chair:
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
Oh, and some applause would be nice.
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 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 all… in 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.
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!
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.
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.
Ein prosit, ein prosit, der Gemutlichkeit!
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
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
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
SOUPS AND SALADS
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 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.
4 pounds beef chuck with bones
2 quarts water
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’s Salad Dressing
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.
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
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.
(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
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
2 Cups Flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup butter
1½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
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.
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!