Leavenworth in the USA: It doesn′t get any more Bavarian than this | DW Travel | DW | 05.09.2018
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Leavenworth in the USA: It doesn't get any more Bavarian than this

The Oktoberfest is an export hit. In Leavenworth in the USA it is celebrated in a very authentic style, as the small town is a perfect replica of a Bavarian village. A cliché that attracts one million visitors a year.

Rustic architecture, wall paintings in the southern German style called Lüftlmalerei and German-language signposts give Leavenworth a true Bavarian flair.

Tourists can take a carriage ride along the main road, drink Bavarian beer in the inns and beer gardens. Flags with white-blue diamond patterns are waving in front of many houses. "That's why one million visitors come to our city every year," estimates Mayor Cheri Farivar.

The city in the extreme northwest of the USA lives from Bavaria's white-blue traditions and culture.

It's an export hit in different places around the world: In North and South America there some villages built in the Bavarian style. In China there is a replica of Neuschwanstein Castle.

Deutschland | Schloss Neuschwanstein (picture-alliance/imageBROKER)

Like a fairy tale: the original Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

And the Munich Hofbräuhaus has more than a dozen copies in the USA, China and Brazil.

Inns in Leavenworth also serve beer from Bavaria and offer schnitzel and Sauerbraten stews, Roulade meatloaf and Leberkäse spam. 

Why is the Bavarian lifestyle in particular so popular?

"Bavarians stage themselves well. This makes them very popular," summarizes Julia Lichtl, folklorist in the House of Bavarian History in Munich. What many people associate with Bavaria — Oktoberfest, Dirndl dresses, Neuschwanstein Castle — is often equated with the whole of Germany.

Today's image of Bavaria was created in the 19th century. Nature, alpine huts and people in traditional costumes became important motifs of romantic landscape painting. Emigrants often bought such pictures and took them along to their new home.

Schloß Hohenschwangau (picture-alliance/akg-images)

Hohenschwangau in oil: lakes, mountains, white-blue sky and healthy hikers

The landscape is one of the reasons why Leavenworth became a Bavarian village. At the beginning of the 1960s, the village was dying out, says Mayor Farivar. The timber industry ceased, houses were nailed up with boards and families sought their professional fortune elsewhere. A group of businessmen and citizens began to search for a new branch of industry.

People thought the region resembled Bavaria. After several discussions about the place and the beauty of the mountains and the valley, it had become clear: "The new motto for Leavenworth should be: The Bavarian Village".  

USA | Das bayerische Dorf Leavenworth in den USA (picture-alliance/dpa/U. Wessels)

Leavenworth reinvented itself in the 1960s as "The Bavarian Village"

Some Germans who lived in the town played a major role in the design and redesign of the houses. Today, the town of 2,000 inhabitants lives from tourism.

Bavarian beer: a drink and an emotion

The concept of "Gemütlichkeit" — coziness, conviviality and hospitality — are the aspects of the Bavaria image that excite people from abroad time and again. Serving Bavarian beer is an inseparable part of this. With the Schuhplattler dance and geraniums on balconies are other traditions that made Bavarians world famous.

USA | Deutsche Kneipe in Greenwich Village, New York City (picture-alliance/imageBROKER)

An inn in Manhattan, New York: Bavarian culture is popular in the USA

The export of Bavarian culture to Leavenworth has been a success. A few years ago, Mayor Farivar herself visited Germany. What in particular made an impression on her? "The beautiful nature and how clean the towns were."

uw/ fm, sbc (dpa)

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