Cannstatter Wasen

It’s getting closer to travel day, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. We’re going to be doing so much in one week’s time, what with the tavern hopping in Brussels, looking for the perfect Kolsh in Cologne, visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, hanging out in Munich on Reunification day, and of course, Oktoberfest. Trying to state which event I’m looking forward to the most is pointless. They’re all interesting in their own touristy kind of way.

But deep in my heart, I do have a sentimental favorite. Andrea (my traveling partner this trip) and I are going to the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart. The way it was told to me was that this festival, which contains the second largest beer festival behind Oktoberfest, is the one the Germans head to while the tourists head to Munich. I have no idea how true that is, but I’m more than willing to find out.

So why haven’t we Americans focused on this as much as the larger one down the road? Perhaps it is because it is in a smaller city. We Americans can tend to struggle with geography, so any place not featured in an world-renown sporting event, or a city that is not a country’s political epicenter, we will tend to dismiss as “unimportant”.

(Side note here: We Americans don’t even do political epicenters that well. Ask one of us what the capital of Canada is, and you’re more likely than not to get ‘Toronto’ as an answer. Which is funny, because the rest of us Americans know that the answer is ‘Winnipeg’.)

Perhaps the Cannstatter Wasen isn’t as famous because its history isn’t as glamorous. While the Oktoberfest has evolved from the celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen’s marriage, the Cannstatter Wasen is an Agricultural Fair writ large. It’s likely the German version of the Minnesota State Fair, but with less corn dogs and elephant ears, but more beer and sausage.

Regardless of why it’s not as popular, we’re still going, making it the first of the two volksfests we’re attending. And perhaps that’s the real reason for my joyous anxiety – it’s first.