OGDEN — The county fairgrounds got about as German as they ever get with the weekend’s Hof Germanfest filling the Exhibit Hall at the Golden Spike Event Center.
On Saturday, the place was jammed for lunch with German cuisine dished out — with names like spaetzle, a type of pasta; leberkaese, a pork meatloaf; and Wiener schnitzel, not a hot dog or sausage, but a slice of pork pounded flat, breaded and fried or baked.
Salzburger Echo played German music as the dance floor in front of the stage filled up from time to time. Of course, the band played the well-known tune of Julie Andrews and “Sound of Music” fame, “Edelweiss.”
Which is also the name for Helmut and Janet Wenzel’s European gift shop in Centerville. Helmut emigrated from Erzgebirge, Germany. Erzgebirge is German for “The Ore Mountains,” while his adopted home of Centerville would be “Mitteldorf” in German, he said.
Their booth included an array of wooden cuckoo clocks, some nonelectric, powered instead by levers, pulleys and weights, requiring winding — every day for a one-day clock and every eight days for an eight-day clock, they said.
The clocks are imported from the Black Forest region of southwest Germany, the area known for clock-making, Helmut said.
Also impressive was an imported, 18-inch-tall beer stein topped with a large pewter eagle, going for $175.
“That’s a better price than you’d get it for in Germany,” said Janet, noting her name has the German pronunciation of Ju-net, a soft u, as in “up.”
German beer, or bier, was also available, sold by the Golden Spike Event Center staff, the only vendor doing so as the only vendor there with a beer license.
As the staffers pouring beer, Jeri Swenson and Shyan Harber explained that they, like anyone serving alcoholic beverages, are trained and certified by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. That includes class time involving pretend drunks to detect a customer too tipsy to serve.
That’s not a real problem at the annual Germanfest, they said, having sold only a couple dozen of the $4 pints as of 1 p.m., three hours after the fest opened its doors Saturday at 10 a.m.
“It’s not like the rodeo crowds,” Jeri quipped.
The fest opened Friday at noon, reaching standing-room-only status in time for dinner, said Christian Meyer, of Siegfreid’s Sausages, the company providing the food.
Meyer said his father, Siegfried, escaped East Germany just ahead of the Communists after World War II and came to the United States devoted to German-style dining.
He said the Salt Lake City company, formerly of Ogden, was founded by Siegfried, who also helped start the original Hof Festival — named for Ogden’s sister city Hof, Germany — about 20 years ago. The original version was staged on several downtown Ogden blocks that were closed to vehicle traffic.
Over the years, the effort split, with Ogden city staging the Hof Winterfest, canceled this year because of budget constraints regarding the $60,000 cost, according to news reports.
Led by a Weber County-supported volunteer crew, the 27th annual Hof Germanfest on Saturday was obviously going strong.
Officially titled the Sneddon Hof Germanfest, it is named for the late Ogden Mayor Scott Sneddon, with proceeds to the Sneddon Memorial Scholarship Fund to benefit respiratory therapy students at Weber State University.