Upwards of 2000 German traditionalists took to the streets of Buffalo over the weekend, participating in numerous cultural ceremonies, mainly at larger venues such as Adam’s Mark and the Convention Center. It was while visiting the Curtiss Hotel, Tappo and Lucky Day, I ran into a bevy of German families and compatriots who were exploring the city as part of Gaufest. I stopped a few groups to ask them where they were from, and where they were heading. Everyone that I talked to was heading to the larger venues, to celebrate their heritage and participate in ethnic activities. It was amazing seeing so many people dressed up in such intricate, colorful and loyalist garb. The women were all wearing dirndls and the men were sporting lederhosen. They were in jovial moods, and very happy to show off their outfits for the camera.
This is the third time that Buffalo has been graced with the presence of these merrymakers, who flood into Buffalo from all over the US, Germany and Canada. I couldn’t help but think that The City of Buffalo couldn’t have been a bigger part of such a wonderful cultural undertaking. I spied a number of the cheerful groups peeking into bars and restaurants, to see what was going on. I bet that if there had been a German band playing somewhere, we would have seen these curious visitors stop into the establishments to partake in an impromptu dance. People should have been toasting with giant beer steins all over downtown Buffalo.
I’m sure that all of these visitors really enjoy Buffalo, or they would not have come back. At the same time, I feel that we, as a city, should have participated in Gaufest, and that we missed out on something that could have been bigger and more publicized. I bet that we could have struck a more wide-ranging neighborly chord with our visitors. I bet that a lot of Buffalonians would have engaged in myriad German celebrations, if they were tuned into the happenings.
Hopefully Gaufest returns again someday, and if/when it does, I can’t help but wonder if we could all help to wave the German flag a little higher, as a welcoming gesture. And by that time, our Hofbräuhaus should be a huge attraction, which would assuredly curry favor for Buffalo being host city once again. It wasn’t that long ago that I was not even familiar with what Gaufest was (and I’m of German descent). Now, after seeing all of these celebrants walking around the city, I feel that it wouldn’t be a hard lift to show them an even more participatory Buffalo the next time around.