Specializing in "Gemuetlichkeit"
By Charlotte Kohnhorst
Nestled in a cozy narrow valley at elevation of 1100
with surrounding wilderness of rugged, majestic mountain ranges
reaching 5,000-8,000 feet, lies a quaint Bavarian Village.
Snake-twisting rivers, deep azure lakes, crystal-clear crashing
waterfalls, lush green rolling hills dotted with flourishing orchards
alive with buzzing bees seeking sweet nectar provide the magnificent
backdrop for this active community.
Houses here display pointed peaks with large wooden over-hanging
rooflines on stucco/ timber combination structures. Main street finds
hugging gingerbread-style buildings on one side and beautiful park
abundant with variety of trees on the other. One finds scalloped trim
on the rooflines, intricate folk art cutouts on balconies, exterior
wall murals, window boxes and barrels with profusion of flowers
everywhere! Strolling main street visitors admire the 96 foot Maibaum,
(May Pole) dressed in blue and white stripes ( traditional Bavarian
colors) with attached placards depicting town's history. These
include: logging, railroading, skiing, mining, dancing, the town band
and church - all denote role of significance to community. Plaque at
base of Maibaum offers traditional
"Maibaum steh auf, zum weissblauen Himmi
zoag naug, dass in's zu jeglicher Zeit d'Hoamat gedeiht."
Translation: "Maypole rise to the blue-white sky, so our homeland may
forever prosper. Continuing along main street one discovers shops
filled with nutcrackers, dolls, beer steins, music boxes, candles,
candy, cheese, toys,
specialty clothes, gifts, and collectibles to tempt shoppers. One can
always find the unusual exceptionally unique gift for that special
person here. Restaurants, cafes and side street "wurst-stands" offer
German cuisine from sausage with sauerkraut to finest dessert fruit
filled pancakes delicately dusted with powered sugar. Delicacies of
every gastronomical desire are easily found and enjoyed. Hungry
visitors always find "Haxen oder Huhn," delicious goulash accompanied
by "Spaetzle oder Kartoffeln," at one of a variety of good local
restaurants specializing in"Gemuetlichkeit."
If you are lucky you might also spot the local German Bierwagen with
its four horse team going through the downtown area. The harness on
the bierwagen is all handmade in Sud-Tyrol, the German speaking part
of Northern Italy. You might also spot a small 200 year old
carriage pulled by Haflinger horses going through their paces. The
wonderful harness for these horses come from the town of Wallgau in
the heart of Bavaria and are handmade. In the summer you can be
assured of entertainment in the Gazebo in the heart of the downtown.
It may be a German group visiting, or a world class yodeler and a
visiting high school band. There's always a surprise for the visitor
Depending upon season, one discovers skiing, sledding, skating,
hiking, rock climbing, camping, fishing, rafting, canoeing, bike
riding, horseback riding, bird watching, and generally thoroughly
enjoying and appreciating nature. There is possibly no greater
spectacular burst of autumn color than Tumwater Canyon in fall.
Sound like you are in Germany? This is Leavenworth, The Bavarian
Village of Washington! Situated in the heart of the state at the base
of the eastern slopes of Cascade Mountain Range, 118 miles east of
Seattle, one can easily drive to Leavenworth via Interstate 90 or U.S.
Highway 2. Both routes guide one through beautiful terrain and are
exceptionally scenic. Mountains and valleys of this area resemble
parts of southern Germany so closely one feels immediately transported
Early settlers were Native American Indians and later, the Gold Rush
brought many white settlers. During the 1900's, Leavenworth was a very
small town where logging and fishing were primary industries, along
with pear, apple and cherry orchards. With Stock Market Crash and
Great Depression of 1929-1930's, Leavenworth lost residents and
business owners as people moved to larger cities for better jobs and
better pay. Through the 1940-1950's, Leavenworth became virtually a
"ghost town," with many buildings empty or in sad disrepair. 1960
brought transformation as dream to change the "face" of the town into
a Bavarian Village began. Architects were screened and selected who
could create the look of German buildings. Construction began to
change and adapt roof lines with scallops, decorative shutters, and
attached window boxes. Artists were hired to paint murals on exterior
walls. What a delightful transformation the town experienced!
Businesses began encouraging women employees to wear Dirndls and
musicians were sought to play German music. Today we are especially
interested in authentic and traditional Bavarian dress. In 1996,
Projekt Bayern was created. This group consists of individuals
dedicated to the preservation of the Bavarian Theme. Several goals
established include: formation of a town band, (Musikkapelle) holding
annual Christkindlmarkt, and seeking a German Sister City in Bavaria.
Our beautiful natural setting and Bavarian Village uniqueness have
made Leavenworth a major tourist area within the state of Washington,
well known throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the border to
neighbors in Canada.
Leavenworth celebrates many festivals throughout the year. January
brings Icefest and February brings Fasching. Springtime means Maifest,
with Grand Parade, street dancing and great entertainment. Summer
brings Kinderfest, International Accordion Festival and International
Folk Dance Festival, and numerous productions by local Summer Theater
Group. As leaves turn, we celebrate Washington State Autumn Leaf
Festival with huge parade and wonderful entertainment. Oktoberfest
follows and by Thanksgiving week-end we offer Christkindlmarkt.
December brings two special week-ends with magic of Christmas
Photos by Bob Smith & Ken Kohnhorst