Holy Heinerfest

| July 5, 2013

Okay, this post is photo-heavy because only photos can describe what it’s like to go to a German city festival.  Only photos can show the size and quality of rides they wheel into town.  This, my friends, is Heinerfest:

We drove into the city to find, on the edge of town, a giant water ride.  Not a dinky little water slide, mind you, but a giant water ride like you’d find at an amusement park.  In the middle of a parking lot.

Here’s where we were about to reach the top and I was preparing to take a picture of the entire ride, and then our boat began spinning wildly and I was shrieking “HOLD ONTO HER!” while clutching my phone and purse, and the wheel.


And there was a swing ride higher than any ride I’ve ever seen.  As tall as a city building, atop a giant crane.  The people riding it are freaking crazy.  No way in hell was I going up there.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, Oh, that’s probably just the angle of the photo.  And to that I say, take a look at this photo I took from the top of a (giant) ferris wheel.  See that tall yellow pole thing towering above the trees and buildings?  IT’S THE FREAKING GIANT-ASS SWING RIDE.


big-ass swing in left center

Speaking of the ferris wheel, I’m not sure if you noticed how big it was?  Not that we don’t have giant ferris wheels in the States–but we don’t truck them from town to town for weekend carnivals.  (To the left of it: another ride with crazy people on a crane, this time being swung and spun.)

But I digress…our second ride was one I could not wait to take Sequoia on: the haunted roller coaster. This went a little differently than expected and will require multiple photos.  Sit back:

IMG_9076Part One:

Me: “Sequoia, the haunted house was my favorite ride at the St. Catherine’s Carnival!  Wanna go?”

Sequoia, who is never scared of anything: “YES!”

IMG_9085Part Two:

I effectively prepare Sequoia for the ride, hyping up the horror that I’m sure will be hokey but totally worth it.

Part Three:

We’ve gone up through the first level of the haunted house.  It’s mildly startling but not too bad.  We round a bend and are outside for all to watch us (right side of top center).  I hadn’t realized that there were people standing around watching until now.  We look for Paul and don’t see him, then turn our attention back to the ride, which isn’t going very fast.

Part Four:

We go through the middle level, which has stepped it up a notch.  I’ve now jumped and screamed a few times.  Sequoia is gripping me tighter.  We round a bend.

Now, here’s where it would have been helpful for us to have stood below the ride beforehand, to observe what was taking place above–the spectacle that all the Germans were standing around watching.

By now, Paul, who had stayed below, had figured it out.  They were watching people come around the bend and through a tunnel, out to daylight, to have a grim reaper jump out at them with his scythe.  They were watching: me.

We rounded the bend.  The Grim Reaper lunged across Sequoia at me, scythe poised, as I shrieked “JESUS!” and basically shit my pants, not at all comforting to my child.

It was then that I realized why we had an audience.

IMG_9094Part Five:

When we took our final loop, Sequoia and I were basket cases; so when we exited the final tunnel, we freaked out at the man to our right.  He was just a ride operator.  The mother in the seat behind us spent more time laughing than being scared.

Part Six:

Exit ride with crying child.

IMG_0381I decided that the best thing to do at this point would be to take Sequoia on the bumper cars.  Somehow she trusted me to drive, and we made it our mission to take out Paul.  That involved mainly me flying in reverse, spinning wildly, and crashing into everything in sight while flailing and guffawing, much to the delight of our German audience.

For those kids not willing to enter into years of nightmares by riding the sky-high swings, there was a more reasonable swing ride down another street.

To compare, Sequoia exiting a ride with me vs. exiting a ride with Paul:

The swing was next to (of course) another much less reasonable spinning ride.  Fortunately, they place these rides next to tall buildings to lend credence to my tales.


Remember how I told you Germans just stand around watching people on rides?  When not watching tall cranes spinning people around, they watched rides like this one, with people being bounced and spun and knocked all over the place;


And this one with an obstacle course in which you make your way through a construction zone and can throw punching bags into people’s faces (totally wanna do this next time):


The foreign concept for us is that you pay at each ride.  There’s no stamp or ticket roll or pass.  Each individual ride/vendor has a ticket booth, and you buy your chip there.

If anyone was hoping for a claw machine and didn’t feel like waiting in line…


Or perhaps was worried there wouldn’t be enough prizes at the game booths?


So.  Food.  The first thing we ate was, of course, bratwurst.

Then I saw this:


And had me some corn on the cob.

It was tough, but I just said no to the cauliflower.


Sequoia did not just say no to the typical German fair cookie.

Although it was July 4th, we passed on the American ice cream (opting instead for banana-Nutella crepes).


And for the Arrested Development fans, damn near a banana stand:


And so, my friends, THIS is what HEINERFEST looks like:

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Category: Family Travel, Festivals, Germany, Heinerfest, In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles, Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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