Weinfest at Weiderkehr Village is Oct. 8-9

Jill M. Rohrbach
This should be on your Arkansas Bucket List – attending Weinfest in Wiederkehr VillageWeinfest 2010 is Oct. 8-9. It kicks off with an Early Bird Party on the 8th in the Wiederkehr Weingarten with music, a full bar, and dancing.

Billed as the most authentic Alpine-style festival in the United States, it begins early on the 9th with tours of the historic cellars beginning at 8:30 a.m. The tasting room is always a popular place where visitors may sample award-winning Wiederkehr wines at no charge. Show bands provide continuous entertainment.

Ubiquitous to the festival are the Grape Stomps, the Stein Stemmen (throwing large rocks similar to a shot-put), Baum Stossen (log toss similar to a Scottish caber) Wine Barrel Rolling contest, and Alpine Horn Blowing contest. Enter the games yourself, or just watch.

During the event you can also take a horse drawn carriage ride by the vineyards and around the 34-acre Alpine Lake. Then take a free polka lesson, browse the arts and crafts or tour beautiful St. Mary’s church. The church was built by immigrants who volunteered their labor. It contains murals for which the area’s early residents posed as models.

You won’t want to miss dining in the historic Weinkeller Restaurant, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The restaurant used to be the original hand-dug wine cellar of Johann Andreas Wiederkehr, who founded the winery in the 1880s. Voted most romantic and best ethnic restaurant numerous times in the Arkansas Times’ People’s Choice awards, the Weinkeller serves old world cuisine in a candle-lit atmosphere.

But there will be plenty of wonderful festival food too – sausage, knackwurst, bratwurst, and hot apple strudel. Admission to the grounds is free, but you need to buy tickets in advance or the day of the festival for the wine dinner. Call 1-800-622-WINE to order tickets.

Wiederkehr Village is located at exit 41 off 1-40. Follow the signs to the grounds of Wiederkehr Wine Cellars.

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