Fasching before fasting

Margaret Stoltman, left, and Ted Vath dance Sunday to the music of Alpine Echo during a Fasching celebration at Country Inns of America, 718 Horizon Drive. Many dressed in costumes for the German Mardi Gras festivities.

Forty days of restraint and reflection start Wednesday for Christians who celebrate Lent. But Sunday, it was time to party.

About 100 local supporters of the German American Club in Grand Junction gathered at Country Inns of America for Fasching, the German version of Mardi Gras. The king cakes and copious beads associated with New Orleans Mardi Gras were replaced with beer, pretzels and dancing in costumes to polka music supplied by Alpine Echo. Rosi’s Little Bavarian Restaurant in Glenwood Springs provided a buffet.

Costumes ranged from masquerade-type outfits and masks to cowgirls and flamenco dancers. Costumes at Fasching events in Germany tend to focus on the “silly” and government satire, according to Jim Witt, president of the local German American Club and a former German teacher at Grand Junction High School.

“Basically, Fasching is about letting it all hang out before Lent,” Witt said. “It’s one of my favorite parties of the year.”

The club also throws a Maifest each May at Palisade Brewery and Oktoberfest each fall in downtown Grand Junction. The club supports local high school German classes as well and promotes German culture and heritage in the community.

The club invited the local chapter of the Friendship Force, an international exchange program for adults, to join them in festivities Sunday while the Friendship Force celebrated International Friendship Day. The German American Club helped translate when Germans from Vogtland visited the Grand Valley through a Friendship Force exchange last year.

The exchanges send chapter members to travel as a group and stay in people’s homes around the world to learn more about each other’s cultures and daily living


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