A new food booth at this year’s Seymour Oktoberfest doesn’t cut any corners when providing a true German experience for visitors.

Robert and Alexandra Graf of New Hampshire, owners of Schnitzels and Giggles, dress in traditional Bavarian attire, including lederhosen for Bob and a dirndl dress for Alexandra, while they serve up authentic German vittles.

The booth is located on Chestnut Street just south of the railroad tracks across the street from One Chamber Square.

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On the menu is their famous schnitzel, which is a thin piece of pork loin or chicken breast, hand pounded by Bob, that is floured, egg washed, covered in bread crumbs, fried and served on a stick or on a bun like a tenderloin. It also can be ordered as a platter dinner served with Jäger gravy.

At 9 inches, their bratwurst are some of the biggest around and are served on a Bolillo roll with peppers, onions and homemade sauerkraut.

The Grafs also offer pommes frites, which are German-style fries served plain or with toppings, German-style braised red cabbage and potato pancakes.

“We usually run out of the potato pancakes, especially if it’s a busy weekend,” Alexandra said.

The couple started their mobile food business in 2010 as an extension of their award-winning German restaurant Alphorn Bistro at the Inn at Danbury in New Hampshire.

They had owned and operated the restaurant for nine years and in 2008 experienced a fire along with the economic recession, which led to the couple filing for bankruptcy in 2011 and losing the business.

“We lost everything and had to start over,” Alexandra said.

“We knew this was the only option,” Bob said of the traveling German food concessions booth. “It was either that or get jobs.”

But at age 60 and having worked for himself his whole life, Bob said it wasn’t likely he could find a job that would pay enough.

“I could have been a chef at a restaurant in New Hampshire for like $9.50 an hour,” he said.

The name Schnitzels and Giggles was the result of a contest the Grafs held at their restaurant to name the booth.

“People walk by, and they giggle,” Alexandra said. “It’s just kind of catchy.”

At first, they remained on the East Coast, but people kept encouraging them to venture toward the Midwest. So they set up shop at the Cleveland, Ohio, Oktoberfest several years ago.

Three years ago, they branched out to do a German fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and did a bratwurst festival in Bucyrus, Ohio, and ended up setting up at a German festival in Texas.

Now, they travel 15,000 miles a year setting up at 30 different events, with about half being German-themed.

“We do as many German festivals as we can,” Alexandra said.

Alexandra immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands and ended up in Brownsburg, where her first husband lived. She became a citizen in 1988.

Bob’s ancestors are Swiss, and he met Alexandra when he was her ski instructor.

“So he likes the brats, and I like the schnitzels,” she said. “And the rest is history.”

Alexandra uses her grandmother’s recipe for the braised cabbage and traditional kraut.

The Grafs are excited about being a part of the Seymour Oktoberfest and hope to make enough money to make it worthwhile to become an annual fixture at the festival.

They learned about the Seymour Oktoberfest on the way to Texas from Virginia.

“We stopped at a rest station on (Interstate) 65 and picked up a brochure that listed festivals,” she said.

So she contacted someone with the Seymour Oktoberfest to see about setting up.

“They decided they needed more German food because apparently last year, there wasn’t enough,” she said of the festival accepting them. “But there is a lot of food here.”

Since their daughters are grown, it’s just Bob and Alexandra operating the booth now, but they were hoping to find some help locally to get through the three days of Oktoberfest.

“We’re hoping it will be good and we meet a lot of people,” Alexandra said. “It will be a great addition to our route.”

At a glance

Schedule of events for 44th annual Seymour Oktoberfest

For information, visit seymouroktoberfest.com or call 812-523-1414.

Today

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Booths and biergarten open

Noon to 4 p.m.: Kinderplatz Nummer Ein (One Kids Square); free painting and coloring activities

1 to 11 p.m.: Carnival rides and games open

6 to 8 p.m.: Register for baby contest at the information booth

7:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Hot Air Balloon Glow in the grass lot on the corner of West Fifth and North Walnut streets at the former site of Shields High School

Throughout the day, look for roving musicians, including accordionist Larry VonEssen, the Lost Mill String Band and The Spoon Man.

North Stage

6 to 7 p.m.: Columbus Clogging Co.

8 p.m.: Free concert by AC/DC tribute band 100% Angus

South Stage

5 to 6 p.m.: Brown Bouncing Bears jump rope team from Margaret R. Brown Elementary School

6 to 7 p.m.: Country Kickers

7 to 11 p.m.: Bluegrass music

West Stage

6:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band, polka, bunny hop and chicken dance

6:30 p.m.: Polka and chicken dance contest featuring the Second Street Dancers

Saturday

11 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Booths and biergarten open

7 to 8 a.m.: Registration for the 5K walk/run at Seymour High School

8 a.m.: 5K walk/run at Seymour High School

9 a.m.: Registration for cornhole tournament at Gaiser Park

9:20 a.m.: 5K walk/run awards presented at Seymour High School

10:15 a.m.: Cornhole tournament at Gaiser Park

10:30 a.m. to noon: Registration for horseshoe tournament at Gaiser Park

Noon: Horseshoe tournament at Gaiser Park

Noon to 4 p.m.: Kinderplatz Nummer Ein (One Kids Square); free painting and coloring activities for kids

1 p.m. to 11 p.m.: Carnival rides and games open

1:30 p.m.: Parade starts on Community Drive

4 p.m.: Game of SKATE at the Schurman and Grubb Memorial Skatepark

4 p.m.: Stein hoist at the biergarten

4 p.m.: Hot air balloons arrive at grass lot on the corner of West Fifth and North Walnut streets

Throughout the day, look for roving musicians, including accordionist Larry VonEssen, the Lost Mill String Band and The Spoon Man.

North Stage

9:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Baby contest

3 to 5 p.m.: Free concert by These Fine Gentlemen

5 p.m.: Presentation of parade trophies

6:30 p.m.: Brat eating contest

7:30 to 9 p.m.: Talent show

South Stage

3:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Cornerstone Community Church Praise Team

5:45 to 6:45 p.m.: Southern Indiana Taiko (Japanese drumming)

7 to 11 p.m.: Bluegrass music

West Stage

2:30 to 4 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band

6:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Schulhaus 4+3 German band

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.