Posted by: Nazausgraben | July 19, 2009


Please allow me to divert from the Roman Road for just a few moments, and take you on a brief journey to a lovely historic village sitting in the heart of the nearby Lechthal (Lech Valley). For Susi and I took a break today and after Mass went to a special music event…the 60th Außerferner Bundesmusikfest in the little village of Häselgehr.

It was quite a spectacular event, with over 1,500 musicians participating in approximately 40 village bands from all over the entire Tirol. Each band had its own unique uniform style and colors, flags, a leader and, of course, the schnapps girls.

They marched down the main street of Häselgehr, past the region’s Governor, a whole host of village, town and city mayors and other prominents of various political persuasions. There they came, one at a time, separated by about 3 minutes or so, so as not to clash melodies and rhythms.

Our Pinswang Musikkapelle marched by in splendid form, the 12th group to parade by the viewing stands and…the feared judges. For you see, this was also a competition between bands. Separated into 5 different categories depending on the size and type of program played, the bands all had great respect for the judges and took them very seriously indeed. For these were the folks who would be grading each band not only for their performance, but for how they looked, how they marched, style, gestures, every bit of detail.


Some bands just marched…others performed maneuvers, some very intricate and with great flourish. Our Pinswanger troops did extremely well indeed, and Susi and I would have certainly given them winning scores (not that we are biased or anything like that!!!).

After a while, Susi and I left the parade route and headed to the huge circus-style tent. Inside, there was a cacophony of sounds..musical and digestive alike, as many hundreds (perhaps even thousands?) of very hungry and even more thirsty musicians and spectators were digging in to tons of sausage, schnitzel, chicken, potatoes, bread and cakes of all equally delicious descriptions.

Beer and wine flowed like a veritable Trevi Fountain. Ein Prosit!!! Every few minutes, another toast to this or that, with half-liter mugs colliding with mountain goat horn-butting ferocity and a slosh of some foam onto the table.

With the bands playing on a huge stage at one end of the tent, and an army of servers, cashiers and cleaners on top of the attendees, it made for quite a roar. Indeed, being in that tent exposed one to incredibly loud noise…it had to be well over the ultimate near-deaf limit…something akin to leaning against the intake of an F-18 about to launch at full military power. Instead of covering ones ears (a rather gauche and definitely impolite gesture that MUST be avoided at all costs), one had to just give in to the raucous fun and join in.


Believe me, it was not very hard to do. Yes, dear friends, Susi and I stood atop the benches and, holding our beer mugs high into the sweltering perspiring air, mouths still relishing the just completed strawberry and cream torte, we joined the throngs of trachten-bedecked players…some visiting groups coming from as far away as Bavaria…as all belted out songs about beautiful Tirol and how good it is to be alive and drinking and all the other wonderful volkish sentiments put to marvelous melodies, some old, some not so.

The schnapps girls stood atop our tables, holding proudly high the engraved wooden sign telling the musikkapelle world that WE ARE PINSWANGERS! Suddenly, some of the party lifted table, schnapps girls and all as high as possible…at full arms length (happily, most had arms of near equal length to one another..a lopsided table lift could have resulted in flying dirndl disaster).

We finally exited the tent into the cool of the day and headed for our car. After abit of recalcitrance, the old Renault engine was alight and we diesel chugged our way out of the lovely Lech Valley, back toward Pinswang.

The 30-minute drive home was quiet…no singing, and very little talk. The delightful din of the tent wore us out and all we wanted was some blissful stillness.

Well, at the risk of losing all of my upper frequencies, I would not want to engage in such beer tent behaviors every day. Still, it was a wonderful experience about which Susi and I will be talking for some time to come.

By the way, I never did find out if Pinswang won or not…I’ll let you know.


  1. Andy —

    These writings are a true delight. Keep them coming. I’m becoming inspired to do some writing of my own now and not wait ’til retirement. It will take a lot of effort to match you, though.

    And, most importantly, we are quickly finding ourselves so enchanted by Austria that we will be looking for a flight over as soon as we can.

    Our best, dear friend,


  2. This is some wonderful writing here in front of me! It’s almost like reading Tolkin’s Lord Of The Rings, the scene where Bilbo has his 111 birthday and all the Hobbits gather in a huge tent and feast on all the wonderful thing which grew in the Shire.

    Since there is no more Tolkin, I will just have to read more of your blogs!

    Cheers, and please continue writing!


  3. Nice Article. Have bookmarked your site! Keep it up!

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