2017 Bavarian Festival

1 Jun

Make plans to attend the 2017 Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival!

The finishing touches are in the works for the 2017 Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival, which will take place Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, June 11, 2017. The festival, which is Michigan’s largest celebration of Bavarian heritage, has been a Frankenmuth tradition for over 50 years.

The event, created by William “Tiny” Zehnder and his wife Dorothy, started in 1959. The initial event was planned to celebrate the grand opening of the Bavarian addition of Fischer’s Hotel (now the Bavarian Inn Restaurant).

The first Bavarian Festival Parade in 1961 was attended by an estimated 10,000 people. Today, this festival in “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” has grown even bigger and was named one of the state’s “Top 5 Festivals” by AAA’s Michigan Living Magazine. This year continues the tradition with a new twist.

(Tiny & Dorothy Zehnder were the original Grand Marshals of the Bavarian Festival)

Visitors to this year’s festival will be greeted by a different format from years past, according to Frankenmuth Civic Events Council President Russ Uphold. “This year’s Bavarian Festival will be a ‘strassenfest,’ – a street festival, which will be taking place along Main Street near the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and the Zehnder Park. We expect to have three main stages, with a different form of entertainment at each venue, such as polka music, Top 40 tunes, and more,” Uphold said. He noted the new location will include a Sommergarten, where festivalgoers can feast on traditional German fare and enjoy a frosty beverage. Children’s activities will be nearby.

(Bill Zehnder drives a group of guests in the Folkswagen tour Trolley in 1968)

The festival will be held in downtown Frankenmuth, with the main tent in Zehnder Park hosting a number of traditional German entertainers. There will also be a “rock” tent behind Tiffany’s, which will feature the Sinclairs and Bromantics on Friday and Saturday night. But that’s not even scratching the surface of what visitors can enjoy. The festival will start off on Thursday with a Princess Coronation and Keg Tapping. On Friday, guests can take part in a Chicken BBQ and Maypole Raising Ceremony. There will also be Festival Olympics at 7 p.m.

(Tiny & Dorothy Zehnder along with friends at one of the early Bavarian Festivals)

The fun starts early on Saturday, with a pancake breakfast and Bloody Mary bar starting at 8 a.m. There will be events for all ages – from Kinder Platz kids’ activities, a children’s/kids parade at 10 a.m., an Instagram Scavenger Hunt, to a brat, snacks and beer meal! Click here to view the fesitval’s schedule of events.

(Matriarchs Dorothy Zehnder & Irene Bronner pose at a recent Bavarian Festival Parade)

Everything is wrapped up with the big Bavarian Festival parade on Sunday, June 11, with more than 100 marching units making their merry way along Main Street.

Sounds like fun? Mark your calendar and celebrate the heritage of Frankenmuth. Start planning your visit by making reservations at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and the Bavarian Inn Lodge because bookings fill up quickly as the festival dates grow nearer. Hope to see you here!


Dog Bowl & Balloons over Bavarian Inn

17 May


2017 Mother’s Day Buffet at Bavarian Inn Lodge

29 Apr


2017 Easter Buffet at Bavarian Inn Lodge

4 Apr

A Historical Guide to Bavaria

30 Nov

With its beginnings predating the Roman Empire, the German region known as Bavaria has a rich and tumultuous history that spans several thousand years and a unique culture that can still be experienced today. For those who can’t make a pilgrimage all the way to Bavaria itself, the region’s culture and history can still be experienced through the authentic German hotel and museum culture that is prevalent in the U.S. Book a German hotel today and browse below for a brief crash-course on Bavarian history to prepare for your stay.

Bavarian flag pattern

Bavarian flag pattern

Bavaria and the Roman Empire

During the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus, much of the area that is today called Bavaria in southeast Germany was occupied by the Celts and became part of the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire fell in the 5th Century, the region fell under the control of Bajuwares, a tribe formed from the Celts, invading Germans from the north, and the remaining Romans in the region.

The Bavarian Duchy

The Bavarian duchy, a system of government under the rule of a duke, began in 555 A.D. and met its first demise when invading Karl the Great defeated Bavarian Duke Tassilo in 788. The Duchy later regained power after the fall of another dynasty, the Carolingians, several hundred years later near the turn of the millennium.

For nearly 800 years, from 1180 to 1918, Bavaria continued as a territorial duchy under the rule of the Wittelsbach line. It was during this period that much of Bavaria’s unique culture began to develop. During Wittelsbach rule, Bavaria was proclaimed an electorate in 1623 after the Thirty-Year War, a kingdom during the time of Napoleon (first siding with France and then against them), and then finally, in 1871, it was absorbed as part of the newly-founded Deutsche Reich.

Modern-Day Bavaria

It was not until 1918 that the Wittelsbach rule crumbled during the German “November Revolution.” Bavaria was then declared a “free-state” and Socialist groups installed a new council republic. After the events of WWII, Bavaria was assimilated as a federal state in the newly-founded Federal Republic of Germany, where it remains to this day.

Today, Bavaria is famous for its food and drink—including world famous beer gardens and white sausage—as well as a rich cultural history and unique architecture, which has been immitated around the world. For a true Bavarian expereince right here in the U.S., visit an authentic German hotel in your area. The Bavarian Inn Lodge is the German hotel you are looking for when you want family fun and Bavarian culture.

Enjoy Bavarian Culture Without Leaving the U.S.

28 Nov

Bavaria is a federal state in Germany, but the people living there consider themselves Bavarian first and German second. For most people, the word “Bavarian” conjures images of delicious desserts, foamy beer in huge steins, and iconic architecture. For a taste of this unique culture without leaving the U.S., many people look to German hotels.

German gasthaus

German gasthaus


German hotels often resemble dreamy castles that evoke the feeling of opulence to their guests. Castles, such as the ones built mad King Ludwig II, known as the fairy tale king because of his extravagant castles, offer a glimpse into the country’s past and are an important part of the Bavarian culture, drawing visitors from everywhere in the world. Some of the most recognizable castles and palaces in the world are located in Bavaria.

Traditional Clothes

Another iconic image of Bavarian culture is the oft-imitated traditional dress, specifically the lederhosen and dirndl. Many German hotels and other German-themed businesses and celebrations dress workers in these traditional rural outfits. The lederhosen are shorts or pants made out of leather and elegantly decorated with embroidery on the bib section and suspenders. The longer ones, below the knee, are called bundhosen.

Women wear the traditional dirndl for festivities. The dirndl is based on dresses traditionally worn by peasants living in the Alps. These colorful full skirt dresses and aprons adorned with embroidered flowers are usually worn with a ruffled white blouse is and a buttoned or tied bodice.

Celebrations and Traditions

The Bavarian culture is one of many celebrations from the Aperschnalzen whip-cracking competition to to the globally well-known Oktoberfest. Perhaps the most famous of the Bavarian celebrations is Oktoberfest, a weeks long folk festival held in Munich since 1810. Millions of tourists from around the world flock to the Theresienwiese fairgrounds, known locally as Wies’n, to partake in the food and beer. The first Oktoberfest was a celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (to become King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. Today, Oktoberfest celebrations can be found all over the world, often hosted by German hotels or restaurants.

A lesser known but popular celebratory event taking place in winter (usually every 3rd February) is the Aperschnalzen whip-cracking competition. The Aperschnalzen (from the word aper, which means free of snow), is an old tradition that was resurrected in the 20th Century in which teams of men rhythmically snap and crack a whip, known as a goassl, to drive the winter away.





A Brief History of the Bratwurst

24 Nov

Any meat-lover will tell you that a well-made bratwurst is one of the best dishes out there. Born out of necessity and perfected over centuries of tradition, the delicious sausage we now affectionately call the “brat,” has a unique history that continues as a German restaurant and hotel staple to this day. Explore the unique history of this tasty creation below, and complete your experience by visiting an authentic German restaurant!



The Origin of the Word “Bratwurst”

A lot can be learned about bratwurst history through a study of the etymology, or origins, of the word “bratwurst” itself. Many etymologists trace the origins of “bratwurst” back to the Old High German word “Brat,” meaning without waste, and “wurst,” which means “sausage.”

And that’s exactly what bratwursts are: unwasteful sausages. A bratwurst is typically made using scraps of meat held together in a thin casing (originally made out of animal intestine). Centuries ago, bratwursts were a means of survival for many German people. During harsh winter months, not even the smallest scraps of meat could be wasted, so they were gathered, encased, and preserved into bratwurst sausages. The same the process continues in German restaurants to this day (though many sausage makers elect to use synthetic casing instead of intestine).

The Earliest Bratwurst

The exact origins of the bratwurst are still not entirely known, though most believe it to have originated in Germany several hundred years ago. It has been a long-standing argument between the people of Thüringen and the people of Franconia, two German regions, as to which region developed the bratwurst first. Recently, a hobby historian, Heinrich Hollerl, discovered a list of ingredients for Thuringian sausage over 600 years old. It is currently the oldest known recipe for German sausage. However, Hollerl’s discovery did not settle the debate. Hollerl himself believes that the bratwurst was originally invented by the Celts and was later introduced to the Franconians and Thuringians.

The Bratwurst Today

Today, the bratwurst is a popular food for people around the world. With several varieties and sizes developed over the centuries, it has been embraced throughout Europe, the United States (especially in Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Michigan), and several other countries. A delicious and ingenious creation, the bratwurst is still done best by those who first created it. When you’re feeling like eating a hearty handful of brat, be sure to stop by the closest traditional German restaurant or German hotel in your area.