You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 5:47 p.m.

All the Brews Fit to Pint: Enjoy the Last German Park Picnic of 2009

By David Bardallis

Let’s clear up one misunderstanding right off the bat.

It’s not a frat party. It’s not spring break. It’s not a scene out of Animal House, Bachelor Party, The Hangover, or any of your other favorite Hollywood portrayals of drunken debauchery.

Even though it’s true that buckets of beer are involved, the German Park Picnic is for the most part a family kind of event. Germans—and German Americans—have family values, after all.

Every year since 1938, Ann Arbor’s German Park Recreation Club has been holding these picnics, three of which—on the last Saturday of June, July, and August—are open to the general public. Despite this long history, many in the area still don’t seem to know about this great event. Enter me, to fill in the great unwashed and uninitiated.

First, a few preliminary questions. Do you like to drink buckets of German beer? Do you enjoy eating sausage and pretzels? Do you like tubas and lederhosen?

If you answered yes to all or any of the above, this is your event. Even if you answered no to all of them, you should still go to German Park. Why? Because it’s a lot of fun, you old grouch.

As proof, I offer step-by-step instructions on how to make the most of the last German Park Picnic of 2009:

  1. Determine that it is Saturday, Aug. 29.
  2. Around 3 p.m., gather cash; blankets and butt cushions; a deck of cards, Scrabble, Yahtzee, or other beloved table game; sunglasses and lotion; bug spray; bottles of water; and assorted friends and/or family members you like.
  3. Sucker a non-drinking friend or pay for a taxi to drive you north from Ann Arbor on Pontiac Trail. Pull over when you see cars turning into a nondescript forested area.
  4. Wait in line to give a Germanic person your $5 entrance fee and be confirmed that the government approves of you drinking beer.
  5. Wait in line to buy tickets ($1 == one ticket) to use as German FunBucks!™ while you’re in the park.
  6. Claim a picnic table as your base of operations. Use elbows and hip checks (in a family values way) if necessary. Spread blankets and lay down butt cushions.
  7. Use your German FunBucks!™ to purchase beer: 13 or 14 FunBucks!™ will get you a bucket of Spaten, Franziskaner, or Dinkel Acker (or Coors Light, if you suck).
  8. Also grab some landjaeger (dried sausage) and pretzels (one German FunBuck!™ apiece).
  9. Back at your base of operations, plunk down buckets of beer and snacks for your posse. Begin games of euchre, Scrabble, Yahtzee, or whatever. Eat, drink, be merry.
  10. Repeat previous three steps until consensus determines Real Food is necessary/desirable to counteract mass beer drinking. Get in line for the mess tent.
  11. Use whatever German FunBucks!™ you have left to load up on bratwurst, knackwurst, spaetzle, German potato salad, and other delicacies. Devour ravenously.
  12. Listen to, or go to the gazebo to watch, German “oom-pah” band and dancers perform your favorite German classics, including “Achy Breaky Heart.”
  13. Continue eating, drinking, and being merry (you can always purchase more German FunBucks!™) until 11 p.m. or everyone’s ready to leave, whichever comes first. Things look more and more like Animal House, Bachelor Party, and The Hangover the later it gets, though it’s never really that bad.
  14. Have non-drinking friend or taxi deliver you back home safely.
  15. Optionally upload embarrassing photos to Facebook, or sleep and do it later.

Now if that doesn’t sound like a good time to you, then I think you are beyond my help. If you are concerned about your smaller children, you can bring a Frisbee or other distraction, which will help keep your impressionable progeny from being bored as well as obscure your bad habits and still give them a chance to grow up to be upright citizens.

At any rate, it goes without saying I plan on being there this Saturday. Come up and say hi. I’ll be the one in the toga.

German Park Picnic, Saturday, Aug. 29, 4-11pm, 5549 Pontiac Trail. Call 734-769-0048 for more details.

David Bardallis is a freelance writer and editor, blogger, bon vivant, and man about town. Visit his Web site,, to engage his services or read his latest ramblings insights.


David Bardallis

Wed, Aug 26, 2009 : 2:30 p.m.

Good point on selling back any unused tickets. I made that mistake once. And Top Cat is also right. I've even received death threats from friends for even writing about this. "Why would you encourage MORE people to come?" So, hey, if you read this article, I was just kidding. Nothing to see here, move along!

Top Cat

Wed, Aug 26, 2009 : 2:13 p.m.

Dave is always....but leaves out one detail....which is be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting in line to either get in, buy beer or especially buy food.

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Wed, Aug 26, 2009 : 9:36 a.m.

We're definitely planning on this for the last night of our "staycation" - good times, good food - what else do you need?

Peggy Lampman

Wed, Aug 26, 2009 : 8:28 a.m.

David-I have great memories of German Park dating about 15 years+back--of wildly dancing with my kids and their Oma and Opa. (Thank God those were in the days before facebook) Nevertheless, my kids have grown up, as you put it, to be "upright" citizens! Thanks for the update! Peggy


Mon, Aug 24, 2009 : 6:42 p.m.

David... UGH! You had to go and tell the whole world about it. Well ok, since you did... you left out a step: Sell back your Funbucks by 10:30, or any you have left at the end of the night will be expensive souvenirs. Kudos on #7... the last part... about Coors light. :)