Mountains of German sausages and pretzels will be washed down with thousands of liters of beer at this weekend’s Long Island Bavarian Festival, an annual celebration of the Alpine state’s history and culture featuring a number of unique traditions — including a beer-mug-holding contest.
If you want to join the fun before or after hoisting Bavaria’s favorite golden beverage, here are activities designed to lure you from your seat at the festival’s Linden tree-shaded picnic tables or inside the glass-ceiling beer hall.
THE MUG-HOLDING CONTEST
Want to lift your spirits — literally? Try your hand at the Bavarian sport of Masskrugstemmen (mug holding). Contestants line up holding five-pound liter glasses filled with beer. Whoever holds their tankard straight out from their body for the longest time, without spilling a drop, wins ($2 entry).
“There’s a judge, and if they tilt the mug or spill the beer, they are out,” says Ferdinand Huber of Great Neck, president of the Original Enzian, the Bavarian dance organization that runs the festival.
Separate mug-holding contests are held for men and women. At the end of each day the overall champ receives a prize — which according to Bavarian tradition is a glass beer mug, Huber says.
THE STRONGMAN CONTEST
Get the macho men in the crowd to test their strength on this classic carnival game, which challenges you to ring a bell by hitting a target with a mallet ($2 entry).
Says Huber, “It’s more a technique than it is pure strength. You have guys that are monsters that can’t ring the bell.”
JOIN THE FLIRTATION DANCE
The shoe-slapping choreographic antics of schuhplattler dancers are a staple of Bavarian festivals around the globe. Over two dozen lederhosen-wearing men and dirndl-clad women from Long Island’s Original Enzian dance company, one of the oldest traditional German folk dancing groups in America, perform the traditional folk dance of the Alpine and Tyrolean regions of Central Europe. The performers stomp, clap, slap their shoes, thighs and knees — and scream.
They also tap audience members to come on stage and join in the Flirtation Dance. The dancers generally won’t take “nein” for an answer when they recruit audience members to join in this traditional dance from the mountains of Bavaria.
“Usually, we shame them” [the audience members] into dancing, says Huber, who accompanies on the accordion.
The “volunteers” are led around the dance floor, but mostly they’re on their own. Says Huber, “They get very little instruction.”
WEAR A FLOWER CROWN
Along with the standard “Kiss me, I’m German” T-shirts and Alpine hats, at least one vendor is expected to sell traditional flower crowns. The flower headpieces are “not technically German, they are Polish or Ukrainian,” Huber says. But they’re popular both as Bavarian festival headgear and as souvenirs.
QUAFF A NEW BREW
Three German-style wheat beers, which are debuting this season at the Plattduetsche Biergarten, will be on tap. The specialty suds include Bavaria’s Erdinger Weissbier and Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel, a dark beer ($7/glass, $17/pitcher). You can also try Greenport Harbor OG Berliner Weisse, the North Fork brewery’s take on the classic Berliner Weisse style. ($8/glass, $18/pitcher).
43rd annual Long Island Bavarian Festival
WHEN | WHERE 2-11 p.m. Saturday, June 10 and noon-10 p.m. June 11 at Plattduetsche Biergarten, 1132 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square
INFO 516-354-3131, parkrestaurant.com
ADMISSION $10 (free ages 12 and younger)