Every once in awhile I find myself in the right place to join in the most authentic of local experiences. Such was the case when my food and wine group ventured through the Black Forest outside of Baden Baden to spend the day in Sasbachwalden for their annual wine festival and thanksgiving celebration.As we wound through a very foggy and dark forest on our way to the small town in the hills, we emerged from the trees above the fields and vines of Sasbachwalden to make our way to Gourmet die Kochschule, the cooking school that would serve as our base for the day.To get the day started, our host had arranged some specialties of the region to enjoy with a wine tasting from a local wine maker……including my favorite find of this trip, a sparkling rose wine called Sekt. But what we really came early for was to enjoy the parade. And boy, we were not disappointed!Boys of all ages marching along together……followed by thousands of flowers adorning floats from both farmers and wine makers alike.
My guests couldn’t get enough of the parade – I think we took a combined 750 pictures during the day!Of men like this proudly representing their village……as the parade meandered through the tiny town and up the hill.A few of the villagers carried elaborate clocks like this on their back, a reminder of their traditions.This poor young girl could barely carry her family farm sign and her brother, pulling the cart of the harvest behind, kept pushing her and yelling at her to walk faster.Kids were everywhere, and I personally couldn’t stop snapping photos of the cute little German faces.Like this baby boy……or this toddler waving to the crowd……as people watched from the windows of the restaurants and hotels lining the street.The many floats with flower covered wine bottles reminded us why we had come here in the first place……and many, including these young girls, were handing out wine, apples, or other specialties from their farms or wineries.I could only think of Heidi when looking at these two beautiful young sisters.The region is small, but the towns here proudly display where they a from.Taking a short break during the parade, I had a chance to see the lovely river flowing under a bridge lined with overflowing flower boxes.And I returned in time to see the float that summed up how all of the locals must feel: “Our hearts beat for the Alde Gott.”This little girl was singing at the top of her lungs as she marched along hand in hand!While these teen boys, so adorable dressed in traditional garb, handed out wine samples to the crowd.Given the cold no damp weather, I am guessing these girls were pretty happy with their float that included some skins to stay warm.The loggers stopped every once in awhile, fortunately in front of me this time, and they demonstrated how quickly town men can saw a log when working together.This little angel is one of my favorites, sitting in a wine bucket, complete with grape juice smudges on her forehead.The old guy with the pipe took a lot of grief from the crowd.After the parade, you could find people stopping to chat, drink, wine, and compare notes about the day……as they all walked back across the creek to make their way to the wine festival.We grabbed a coffee from Klaus before wandering down through the town……past the colorful window boxes……to experience the festival first hand in the large tent full of people drinking wine and bands playing.This was one special day in a region known for producing some of the best wines in the world. After the rain stops, and the town recovers from their big celebration, they will be back out in the fields to cut the grapes that hang heavy on the vines. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to spend a day wi them in Sasbachwalden.