Pattaya celebrates Austrian cultural heritage at Heurigen Festival

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Meet and greet before the big event. (l-r) Gerrit and Anselma Niehaus, Austrian Consul-General Gerhard Götz and his wife Rosie, Mayor Anan Charoenchasri and Dep. Mayor Apichart Virapal.
Meet and greet before the big event. (l-r) Gerrit and Anselma Niehaus, Austrian Consul-General Gerhard Götz and his wife Rosie, Mayor Anan Charoenchasri and Dep. Mayor Apichart Virapal.

Tiroler Burgermeisterkapelle Band and Silberplattler rock the Thai Garden Resort

Austrian and German expats enjoyed an evening of new wine and Austrian entertainment at the Thai Garden Resort’s “Heurigen” Night.

Gerhard Götz, Consul-General of the Embassy of the Republic of Austria in Thailand, his wife Frosie and Honorary Consul Rudolf Hofer joined Pattaya Mayor Anan Charoenchasri, Deputy Mayor Apichart Virapal, Gerrit and Anselma Niehaus, owners of the Thai Garden Resort, Palisorn Noja, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Center, and Nittaya Patimasongkroh, former president of the YWCA among the many government and business leaders at the packed June 7 event co-sponsored by Thai-Austrian Society.

Elfi Seitz holding the Austrian flag shouts out a traditional yodel, supported by the ‘Silberplattler’ dancers.
Elfi Seitz holding the Austrian flag shouts out a traditional yodel, supported by the ‘Silberplattler’ dancers.

Many of the 200 people attending dressed in traditional Dirndl Austrian outfits while Austrian expats used the occasion to share the history of their homeland with other guests.

Pattaya Mail MD Director Peter Malhotra, emceeing the evening, recounted the history of the Heurigen night. A tradition begun two centuries ago, Heuriger is the abbreviation of “Heuriger Wein” (this year’s wine) in Austrian and Bavarian German. The origins of the fest date back a couple of hundred years when several inn-owners in a small town in the county of Görz complained about their Lord, Count Delmetri, who wanted them to only serve wine from his own winery. Wine makers thus started selling their own wine and products in their own houses, often in order to present their latest wine creations to the public.

On 17 August 1784 Austrian Emperor Joseph II issued a decree that permitted all residents to open establishments to sell and serve self-produced wine and juices. At first no food could be sold in order to prevent competition with restaurants, but over time these restrictions lessened.

Peter went on to explain that a household indicated that they were open and guests were welcome to sample their Heuriger by displaying a handful of conifer or fir twigs bound in a circular Buschen hung above the entrance door. Having said that, he produced a Buschen, which was bound high above the stage to indicate that this house is now open to serve the new wine.

Guest of honour Mayor Anan Charoenchasri delivered his welcome speech saying how happy and proud he was of the Austrian community in Pattaya and thanked them for bringing their unique culture and entertainment to our city.

Austrian Consul General Gerhard Götz responded by speaking of the close historical ties between Thailand and Austria in both culture and commerce. He said, “The Heurigen tradition is one of the many ways in which Austria preserves and celebrates its rich and diverse cultural heritage. One of our most central and cherished values, the Gemütlichkeit, is nowhere more prevalent than in the peaceful, convivial, and relishing atmosphere of an Austrian Heuriger” promising that the evening would be full of fun, music and happiness.

The Thai Garden Resort doesn’t grow its own grapes, of course, but proudly showcased native Austrian wines for the evening, as well as some homespun music and dance from the Tyrol region of the Alps.

Naturally, there also was food, as Thai Garden General Manager Rene Pisters opened the large buffet featuring Austrian, Thai and international specialties.

Speeches wrapped, it was time for entertainment with the Tiroler Burgermeisterkapelle band and Tiroler Silberplattler dance troupe putting on their show by the pool, sparking dancing from many in attendance, including Pattaya’s mayor and deputy mayor.

It was amazing to see Mayor Anan join in the traditional Austrian folk games and dance. He learned to do the Schuhplattler very fast and danced around the stage like a native. He also seemed quite at home performing the Holzhacker (wood cutter) song and dance.

While all this was going on an Austrian buam (lad) was busy on stage cooking the Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake) inviting the mayor to assist him. When done the mayor walked around the tables feeding his masterpiece to the guests. Truly, Mayor Anan was the most popular guest star of the evening.

To show his appreciation and gratitude to the management and the organizer, Thai Austrian Society vice president Gottfried Auer, presented flowers to Anselma Niehaus of the Thai Garden Resort and Elfi Seitz, “without whom this evening’s festivities would not have been possible.”

The evening wrapped with a raffle, with proceeds going to the Anti-Human Trafficking Center. Thomas Sack provided the top prize, a helicopter tour above Pattaya that was won by a Swiss expat, and Bon Café chipped in with a coffeemaker won by a Thai guest.

Mayor Anan joins in the ‘Holzhacker’ song and dance, then carries the fruits of his labour off the stage.
Mayor Anan joins in the ‘Holzhacker’ song and dance, then carries the fruits of his labour off the stage.
Peter Malhotra holds up the traditional ‘Buschen’ before it was fastened high above the stage.
Peter Malhotra holds up the traditional ‘Buschen’ before it was fastened high above the stage.
As part of the traditional play-acting, this fair maiden has to clean up the mess caused by the boys’ fun and games.
As part of the traditional play-acting, this fair maiden has to clean up the mess caused by the boys’ fun and games.

An Austrian lad prepares the ‘Kaiserschmarrn’, approved by Mayor Anan and fed to Gerrit Niehaus, much to Anselma’s delight.
An Austrian lad prepares the ‘Kaiserschmarrn’, approved by Mayor Anan and fed to Gerrit Niehaus, much to Anselma’s delight.
The Tiroler Burgermeisterkapelle band played up a storm of Austrian folk music.
The Tiroler Burgermeisterkapelle band played up a storm of Austrian folk music.
The Tiroler Silberplattler dance troupe wowed the crowd with their poise and beauty.
The Tiroler Silberplattler dance troupe wowed the crowd with their poise and beauty.

TSA-VP Gottfried Auer, thanks Anselma and Gerrit Niehaus and Elfi Seitz for organising a truly memorable event.
TSA-VP Gottfried Auer, thanks Anselma and Gerrit Niehaus and Elfi Seitz for organising a truly memorable event.
Anselma (centre) smiles as Thomas Sack (right) presents the prize of a helicopter flight to the lucky winner.
Anselma (centre) smiles as Thomas Sack (right) presents the prize of a helicopter flight to the lucky winner.
An Austrian couple joins Mayor Anan and Elfi on the dance floor.
An Austrian couple joins Mayor Anan and Elfi on the dance floor.
Karl Mark (centre), leader of the Tiroler Burgermeisterkapelle, congratulates Elfi for a job well done.
Karl Mark (centre), leader of the Tiroler Burgermeisterkapelle, congratulates Elfi for a job well done.
Anselma and Peter, assisted by Khun Nutsara conduct the drawing of raffle prizes.
Anselma and Peter, assisted by Khun Nutsara conduct the drawing of raffle prizes.
Mayor Anan Charoenchasri and Deputy Mayor Apichart Virapal performed the ‘Schuhplattler’ dance to perfection.
Mayor Anan Charoenchasri and Deputy Mayor Apichart Virapal performed the ‘Schuhplattler’ dance to perfection.
VIP guests join the Austrian troupe on stage at the end of a most entertaining Tirolian evening.
VIP guests join the Austrian troupe on stage at the end of a most entertaining Tirolian evening.