If you read the title and gave me an eye roll, thinking I am going to talk about the usual trendy farmer´s market you can basically find in any city around the world nowadays, well…you might wanna stick around a bit longer. By definition, a Farmer´s Market is a place where producers get together to sell their products directly to consumers, in a gain-gain situation. The farmers earn more for selling directly, the consumers pay cheaper without the middle men, also acquiring better quality products – which most of the times are grown organically.
Now, what makes the Odenwälder Bauernmakt, which happens once a year by the town of Michelstadt, so different from every other? First of all, it is a real farmer´s market. And by this, I mean that there you will be buying local products straight from those who make them – big or small brands. I have already seen many events that use the nomenclature “farmer´s market” as a marketing tool to attract tourists, but use handlers who sell goods of different brands from different regions in their stalls. There´s nothing wrong in using handlers, I just expect something different from a farmer´s market.
At the Odenwälder Bauernmakt, producers proudly sell their own output, happily answering any question you might have about the manufacturing process or, even better, giving you samples! You are welcome to try different flavors of processed items like natural juices, fruits, honey, jams, spices, spreads, wine, gin, liqueur…Don´t be shy, tasting is part of the whole experience! There are also those selling their pure products like meat, fish, vegetables and eggs. So, if the assortment of food and the explosion of colors spike up your creativity, you can also take straight-from-the-farm items to cook at home.
But, if you are untalented in the kitchen like me (a great excuse to have someone else do the cooking for you), or just don´t want to wait until you get home, there are stalls where you can buy these fresh products in the ready-to-eat version! You will find grilled sausages, fried breaded fish sandwiches, grilled steaks, fried mushrooms, mushroom ragout, cakes, sweet and savory bread, to name a few. The main ingredients are all from the region, of course! If you want to stick your feet deep into German tradition, I would recommend you to try the apple juice, the plum mousse, the beautifully decorated gingerbread, a bratwurst, and the irreplaceable apple wine, the proud of the Hessen region.
I know it´s not easy to believe, but not everything revolves around food, guys. Though I would say 90% of the market is indeed trying to make the arrows of your scale go up, there are some products that will distract you between one snack and the other. These items range from decoration ones, like handmade carpets, tablecloths and baskets, to useful everyday stuff like brooms, wooden spoons and soaps.
The organizers of the Odenwälder Bauernmakt definitely want to offer a weekend of fun for families, setting itself apart with not only good quality food, but also entertainment. One of the kids´ favorite part is the “pet zoo” area, where farm animals like geese, chickens, turkeys, horses, donkeys, sheep and rabbits can be observed and even caressed. My stress level did go high with those small kids petting huge unreliable geese (yes, you can tell I have a trauma), but oh well, it seems like they all made it in one piece. There were also alpacas, but cuddling with them wasn´t allowed (crazy world, where you can caress a goose, but not an alpaca…). The children could also take part in games like archery and have fun in the automated swings. While they play, the adults have their fun with the big assortment of alcohol drinks available, as well as with the cooking shows, that take place at set times.
The market also pays tribute to the beautiful – and still very cherished in Germany – farmer´s tradition. During the festivity, the visitors can watch, for example, folk dance and whipcrackers´ (Aperschnalzer) presentations. The latter is an ancient Bavarian tradition, where the men swing their three-meter-long whip in the air and lash them on the floor. In ancient times, this custom was performed in order to frighten bad spirits and the cold. You will also get a chance to see the performers wearing traditional attire, like the famous lederhosen, which was and still is used by many farmers as their working clothes.
One of the things that called my attention the most in the Odenwälder Bauernmakt was the commitment of the organizers to also educate their visitors. Not only are the producers eager to explain the origin and preparation of their outputs, but there is also an exposition about different fruit crops throughout the country and Europe. Here you can see different products, many I bet you have never seen or even knew existed. Definitely a fruitful (!) part of the market.
The beautiful nature of the Odenwald region should be enough to convince you to a trip there! But if you can combine this with trying delicious local food, having contact with farmers, experiencing Bavarian farmer tradition and learning about different fruits, then you make your trip one of a kind. Just make sure you plan your adventure around the second week of October, when the Odenwälder Bauernmakt usually takes place.