The "Burgenlander" know how to party. This was graphically demonstrated to me at the picnic at the "Evening Bell Park" on the 21st of July.
Last year over1400 guests were in attendance but the weather may have kept some of them away, since it did look like rain. The weather held out all this afternoon except for a few sprinkles when a thunderstorm passed by to the north of the park, but the sun came out quickly afterwards. Of course all the swimmers were chased out of the pool when the first thunderclap was heard, just in case lightning would strike the pool.
And then there was the food – and plenty of it. Schnitzel, krainer sausages, hot dogs etc. And lots of delicious Austrian style pastries that were baked by the members of the club. Coffee and "Berliners" (German donuts) were available before the 11:00 o’clock church service that took place in front of the beautiful small chapel on the hill in the park grounds. If you wanted to sit down for the service you had to haul your chair up the 31 steps to the chapel. Most of the faithful did just that.
At that time the "Burgenland Duo" started to play on the bandstand, for the guests. These two talented musicians are on a tour here and also played at the Danube Swabian Club in Scarborough last Friday.
When the Duo had finished their gig, the "Golden Keys" from Kitchener took over the entertaining with their fantastic repertoire for the rest of the afternoon. The dance floor – a large slap of concrete – was always full. However it did slow you down a bit when you tried a waltz. But that didn’t seem to bother any of the dancers.
There were a lot of youngsters present that day, something that is good to see. Most of them disappeared when the pool was opened and only sparingly reappeared when they became hungry or thirsty. Kids will be kids! They did participate in the entertainments geared to the kids, a melon-eating contest. No hands allowed! It was hilarious.
One of the greatest attractions was the swimming pool – not only for the kids. Many of the adults also grabbed this chance to cool off.
I could also list all the celebrities and special guests that were present. But I am not going to do that. I might forget one or two of them and than I might really be in the doghouse. My memory may not be as sharp anymore – why be taking a chance?
The Evening Bell Park is really wonderfully situated and very easy to find. Most of the picnic tables are located under the trees, a fact that was greatly appreciated when the sun came out. In case of inclement weather the guests could have retired to the large clubhouse without missing a beat.
The Burgenländer Club used to be a "Untergruppe" or affiliation of the Edelweiss Austrian Club and celebrated their 25th anniversary on the 25th of June, this year. When the Austrian Club ceased most of its activities, the Burgenländer took over. The Rod and Gun Club originally started the picnic about 20 years ago and now it has become a Burgenländer event.
It is not a great fundraiser but usually pays for itself. The rent for the one-day event is $2000.00 and the admission is only $4.00. If about 1000 people attend, enough is cleared to pay the rent, the band, insurance and other expenses. If any money is left over it goes to charity. Helmut Jandrisits, the current president, explained that everything is open and above board and must be accounted for.
Kudos also for the staff, especially the ones that were slaving over a hot stove on this hot day, but also for the ones that tirelessly served the many hungry and thirsty guests with friendly smiles. It takes a lot of time, effort and logistics to make an event like this into the success that it was. And kudos of course to Helmut Jandrisits, Olga and Otto Novak, Oskar Stubits and Fred Kohout who seemed to bear the brunt of the organisational woes, trials and tribulations.
I hope most of these visitors to the "Anna Picknick" at the Evening Bell Park will also come to the German Day at the Canadian National Exhibition when it opens on the 17th of August this year
The German Canadian Club Hansa had set up two large beer tents outside, complete with band. In the great hall a 28-piece "Accollage" accordion orchestra from Lower Saxony, Germany, played their little hearts out and fabulous and tasty food was available from the kitchen and excellent beverages from the bar. There was even a "Schnapps Bar" established in the hall, but that was only moderately visited.
Ulli Jeschke, from CHIN Radio as MC, also kept things moving right along and furnished explanations of the goings-on to the non-German guests. Carabram is a well-advertised annual event and the German Pavilion was always well visited in previous years. On occasion the police had to restrict access to the grounds, that’s how busy it used to be – what happened this year?
Friday, the first day was fairly well visited, Saturday was crowded – so I was told – but on the Sunday, when I was there, nada, zilch. The tents were empty, the "Euro Connection" band had been cancelled and recorded music was substituted in the huge beer tent, the entertainers entertained each other and the accordion orchestra from Germany played as if their heart wasn’t in it any more.
Could it be that Carabram has run its course? Is it similar in a way to Caravan in Toronto, which seemed to have lost a lot of its charms and many of its supporters?
…only this time at the "Donauschwaben Club" in Scarborough. They played to a full house. Even the walls between the restaurant and the hall were opened to make more room for the guests. The guests were not only the "regulars", but a great number of loyal "Burgenländer" had shown up. I suppose it was another opportunity to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the time that the "Burgenland" gained independence from Hungaria in 1921. (They don’t count the years from 1937 – 1945 when they became part of the "Ostmark" under German rule).
One of the visitors from Germany, Barbara Gaug – on a tour through North America – gave a short address, emphasizing the fact that the "Banat", a region neighbouring that of the Danube Swabians, has always had close ties with the neighbours. She is the deputy-president of the "Banater Schwaben" in Germany and president of the region "Nordrhein Westfalen".
The Burgenland Duo: Josef Pitzl, a music teacher, and Stefan Jandl who works for the railroad, both hail from Apetlon in the "Seewinkel" area of the Burgenland. This is their third trip to Canada since 1996 and this time they brought their CD with them. The title: "Land meiner Kindheit" (Land of my childhood). This duo, nicknamed "Sepp & Seif" in their native dialect, entertained with a rich repertoire of renditions from the "Heimat" (home or native region – homeland, where you grew up etc.).
The last time they visited Canada was in 1999, but they promised to come back at the next opportunity. Now there is something to look forward to.
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