Saturday, 7 May 2022

Last of April, First of May

Like probably 99 % of communities worldwide, O.K.‘s village did not celebrate their May fête in 2020 and 2021. This year, though, they planned for it early on, and decided to go through with it once regulations allowed for it.

The village band are heavily involved. Not only do they play while the maypole is erected, they also host the actual fête. This means that band members (and whoever else is willing to help) organise and execute the following tasks: 
rent a tent, buy food and drink, cleaning supplies etc., make sure the parking lot behind the townhall is empty and clean in time, erect the tent plus a row of side tents for the kitchen, storage and scullery areas, install the light and sound system, connect the kitchen etc. to electricity and water, work out a menue (and prices) of food and drink for both days, work out a schedule of who plays music when and another one for who works where when, set up a cash register and all the other work stations and counters for food and drink, organise waiters, organise a guest band, make sure there will be enough home-baked cake… and more. All that for two days!

I arrived at the village on Saturday early afternoon. My shift at the food counter was scheduled for 8:00 pm until open end, but of course I walked down to where the maypole was to be set up at 4:30 pm and then offered to help if necessary. 

The maypole is always erected by members of the crafts association, most prominently carpenters in their traditional work outfits of black corduroy trousers and vest with silver buttons and white shirts.
The Mayor gives a speech, the village band play and with the last song, people sing along - it is the Badner Lied, a patriotic song they sing at every occasion. Very interesting for me! (Not being a Badner myself, but a Swabian - the two federal states of Baden and Wuerttemberg were joined 70 years ago this year.)

Afterwards, everyone walked over to the beer tent (behind the building where the band stands in the above picture), including the band. After everyone was settled, they made music until about 11:00 pm! My help was not necessary until the official start of my shift at 8:00. I had enough to do but was not really stressed out, and as the number of people who came for the food dwindled and those who came for the beer increased, we shut down the kitchen and I was able to join O.K. for a shandy or two after he finished playing.

The family of storks who have made their home right above the parking lot / fête square were not bothered by the many people and the noise, they are used to this kind of environment.

The next day was the 1st of May, and the village band was not playing - every pair of hands was needed for the fête. Instead, a guest band from another village provided the musical entertainment, and they really were good at that.
O.K. and my shifts were from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and believe you me - we worked and worked and worked. The first time I even thought of checking what time it was, two hours had already passed in a whirl.
We had run out of much of the food originally on the menue, and folks were still queuing.
I guess everyone was just so eager to finally have a fest like that again, after two years without.

After our shifts ended, we had a quick drink and a chat with a few others before walking home. We slept VERY well that night!

On Monday afternoon, the tent was dismantled (again, of course, by members of the village band, O.K. among them). Tuesday was O.K.‘s birthday and saw us hosting a small family gathering at his cottage. Wednesday was a day of walking and resting, Thursday was rainy and therefore spent doing household stuff, running errands and generally starting to get ready for our week away. Yesterday, Friday, we went walking again, taking advantage of a fine day. Today, Saturday, was largely spent sorting out things here at the cottage in view of tomorrow‘s departure.

Remember I won‘t have internet access at the hotel, so don‘t wonder what has happened when you don‘t see me around for a week!
Earlier today, between wrapping up the day‘s tasks and  starting to prepare  dinner.


  1. What a busy but fun weekend! I have always heard about May Poles but I have never actually seen one. I guess they are not that popular here but I love the history of it.
    I hope you and O.K. have a wonderful week away!

    1. We did, Bonnie, thank you! Just got back to O.K.‘s, and tomorrow I‘ll be on the train back to my own place.

  2. Glad the event went so well and everyone enjoyed themselves! Hope your holiday week will be filled with lots of good weather and tons of fun!

    1. Thanks, Ellen - it was!
      Somehow your comment was sorted into spam by blogger - I only found it now!

  3. So you are a Swabian ?
    I have this moment looked up the word in relation to the German author we discussed before. And I discovered a book I must now order:
    *Veneration and Revolt - Herman Hesse and Swabian Pietism* by Barry Stephenson.

    Just a few weeks ago I collected Jurgen Schmidt's translated biography of August Bebel which is waiting to be read.
    For the week you are away I shall be thinking about those storks, and losing myself in the 19th Century world of Herr Bebel (1840-1913) a great social democrat.
    I shall also have a glass of whatever it is you are drinking.
    schone Sommerferien !

    1. Thank you, Jack!
      Hermann Hesse featured prominently on our school‘s reading list when I was in my teens, and I went to Librarian School in Hesse‘s birth town Calw.
      There is an August-Bebel-Straße in my town, as there is probably in many other German towns and cities.

      Strictly speaking, I am only half Swabian, as my Dad‘s father‘s side are from Lüneburg and my Mum‘s father‘s side originally came from Schlesien. But born and raised (mostly) in Ludwigsburg makes me more Swabian than anything else, I guess.

  4. I have always loved the idea of little European town fairs! I have never experienced one as I live in Australia! Maybe one day!

    1. It‘s actually a village here (at O.K.‘s), not big enough for a town, and very familiar with many people knowing each other.
      A lot of work but also a lot of fun!