The first recorded mention of Göcklingen dates back to 1254. How many times Göcklingen has since appeared in any medium has not been recorded. But one thing is for sure: Nobody gave two rooster-crows about the wild and romantic Southern Palatinate wine-growing town with its 907 inhabitants during the last 763 years—until four years ago when organic winemaker Gerhard Hoffmann put an unusual idea into practice …
The wine village Göcklingen is so tiny that the administration of the town hall shares the building with the local branch of the Raiffeisenbank. What is big, however, is the number of motorists driving along the famous Südliche Weinstraße (the southern wine-route), which runs directly through the village centre where, like everywhere in the Palatinate region come summer, the cultural highlight of the year takes place, the so-called Kerwe—the local term for wine festival.
While it is rather tranquil in the neighbouring villages during wine festival weekends, when inhabitants and tourists alike raise their Dubbegläser (the region’s typical wine glasses) to one another, eat bratwurst and Saumagen (the most renowned dish of the Palatinate region, stuffed pig’s stomach), all hell breaks loose in Göcklingen during the weekends in June. Cars are parked all the way up to the vineyards at the outskirts of the village—with license plates from all over Europe.
“This way, passing the church, over there at the Laurentiuswies (Laurentius meadow) you will find the Feschtbühn (festival stage).” Residents of Glöckingen are typically friendly people who gladly point curious visitors towards the epicentre of the event. The small square between town hall and Catholic church is jam-packed with people. Children play on the cobblestone, while their parents savour Flammkuchen (tarte flambée) and relax with a Schorle (wine spritzer); everyone is in high spirits. All of a sudden, a bell tolls. But no, not from the church spire. In dolby-surround, sound emanates from the speaker towers that have been set up all around the village centre: “cock-a-doodle-doo”—so loud that the Dubbeglas vibrates in your hand. What on earth is going on here? Are chicken being sacrificed in honour of Bacchus?
On the large festival stage, there is a wonderful sight to behold: an impressive Palatinate, wearing a skin-tight orange and yellow romper suit—crowing. A gaping beak sewn to the costume only scarcely reveals a face blushed as red as beetroot with passion. “Cock-a-doodle-doo,” it crows again into the microphone and the rooster’s crow rings across the roofs of the timbered houses of Göcklingen. A fist raised confidently into the air, the wattles at his throat dangling like mad—because “crowing and strutting” is the discipline, in which this splendid specimen of a rooster is going to achieve victory.