How the Beerfest began in Tenterfield

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

On Wednesdaythe 8th biennial Bavarian Music and Beerfest startedwith a Civic Welcome and a special acknowledgement of the relationship forged between Tenterfield and Ottobeuren. The keys to the town were to a representative from avisiting contingent from the German city.

The group arrived in mass on Monday afternoon before they were billeted out to volunteer families.

HERE FOR THE PARTY: Daniel Keller, Manuel Seit, Edie Mikusch, Karen Harzeuetter, Matthias Hoffmann, Anja Keller and Anna Pfalzer pose below Bavarian and Australian flags following their arrival.

How it all began

A discussion between friends over a “bottle or two” of Schnapps in a pub in Ottobeuren in 1999 led to the creation of one of Tenterfield’s foremost events.

Tenterfield resident Card Geirhos and friend Edie Mikusch were sitting together following a class reunion when they dreamt up a plan that has had lasting effects for the Tenterfield community.

Born in Boehen, Mr Geirhos migrated to Australia a long time ago but has continued his visits home on a regular basis over the years.

Card says he approached then mayor, Lucy Sullivan, to hold an event that has since continued in the shape of the biennial Bavarian Music and Beerfest.

“It was meant to just be a one of – I said to Lucy, we have a fair dinkum band that we can bring over,” Card said.

Split between Tenterfield and Sydney at the time, Card said it became difficult in the early years to organise successive events.

Stanthorpe’s Apple and Grape Festival also became a factor as they didn’t want the events to clash.

Mr Geirhos agreed to continue his role on the premise it was run every second year.

Not just from an organisational perspective but from a financial one, expectations became difficult to manage. Card says the cost for each individual has become excessive and it wasn’t realistic to expect people to travel annually.

“They all pay their own way – it costs them a quarter of a million dollars all up between them to get here and stay,” he said.

With half of this year’s travellers likely to have been over more than once, Card said he was happy they can even make the biennial trek.

SET FOR BEERFEST: Edie Mikusch, Markus Boneberger, Martin Wegele, Martina Woelfle, Elcira Leon and Card Geirhos congregate before the Beerfest action gets underway.

With Rotary jumping on board later in the picture, Mr Geirhos says the organisational process to pull it together is exhausting.

“Some people don’t understand the sacrifice that is there to make this happen – Edie and I speak 3 or 4 times a week to try organise things – hundreds of hours go into it.”

At 78-years-young Card said this was likely to be his last when it came to the organisational process – but he’s hopeful someone will take the mantle otherwise he fears this could be the last Beerfest.

“For Tenterfield it’s a good thing – Germans from Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast come to the event. All the people involved love coming – they are always excited.”

From the event, has also come another lasting relationship with sister city Ottobeuren and Hawangen and Boehen.

A partnership deed was signed in 2002 to establish a friendship with the Bavarian municipality.

Over 70 members are signed and paid members of a Town Partnership Committee in Ottobeuren.

Ottobeuren has a population of little more than 8,000 people and is situated at the southern tip of Germany. Famous for their Benedictine Abbey founded in 764, the building has an illustrious part in German history.


Lucy Sullivan said former Ottobeuren mayor Bernd Schaefer, visiting Tenterfield again this year, was key to getting the partnership off the ground.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger,” Lucy said.

“Council really became involved after the deed was signed – I know mayor Peter Petty is very interested in continuing to foster the friendship into the future.”

Through her involvement Lucy and husband Geoff have been to Ottobeuren on five occasions and even attended a wedding.

Highlights of 2015 festival

Highlights of the visit will include a civic welcome and recital in Bruxner Park and two concerts at Tenterfield High School.

A further concert will also be held at the School of Arts and the main event, the Bavarian Beerfest, at the Tenterfield Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 7.

Tenterfield is thought to be the only town in Australia to host a band from Germany on a biennial basis and the event usually attracts hundreds of keen observers.

Each of the weary travellers will be put up by local families throughout their stay before things culminate in Saturday night’s Beerfest in Memorial Hall.

Organisers said tickets didn’t last long as people flocked to get theirs.

Beer, sausages and sauerkraut will keep people content late into the night as dancing and music plays out during Saturday evening.

So bring your dancing shoes and pull those lederhosen’s from the cupboard.

The event is being hosted by The Tenterfield Rotary Club in association with Tenterfield ShireCouncil’s Town Partnership Committee.

Sixteenyears on from the initial event and drawing in hundreds of tourists to Tenterfield biennially, Mr Geirhos stressed how crucial it was for Tenterfield to build on what has been created through determination and desire.

“It would be disappointing if it stopped – everyone who comes over enjoys it tremendously,” Mr Geirhos said with a nod of agreeance from Edie Mikusch.

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