By some Divine Coincidence, the Reich-Ducal visit happened at the same time the Old Raubenstadt Festival tradition of "The Running Of The Barrells" was being held. The Markgraaf took particular delight in telling the Duke and Duchess how the custom had gotten started and how it had evolved over the years, as they took their seats in the stands near the finishline.
"Many years ago, a beer wagon lost its load of full beer barrells at the top of Brewer's Hill, and they careened away down the strasse. Between the people trying to get out of the way of the cascading casks, the apprentices trying to recover the run aways, and the customers of the Inns and Bars lining the road pursuing the barrels for their own purposes, the confusion was severe, to say the least.
After the original incident, there were recriminations and charges flung back and forth between the brewer's, the cooper's, and the hauler's as to who was to blame. So it was decided by the Guildmeisters that an annual competition would be held.
Each cooper would construct a thirty gallon barrel for the race, decorated with his colors and heraldry. Each brewer would fill the barrel with his "Winter Dark" Lager. Each hauler would nominate an apprentice to captain a team of one cooper apprentice and one brewer apprentice armed with wooden prybars to maneuver the barrell down the hill. If the barrel springs a leak, they are eliminated. The first team to get their barrel across the finish line wins bragging rights for their masters until next year's running.
However, each Inn and Bar along Brewer's Strasse is allowed to field a two man team. If they manage to stop a barrell in front of their establishment, it is theirs. In addition, there are the runners who start at the top of the hill. Each runner carries a white scarf tucked into his belt.
If a Inn and Bar team manage to grab the scarf from the belt, the runner is obliged to go to their establishment. Any runner who makes it down the hill, with his scarf, ahead of the barrells gets to drink for free in any establishment for the rest of the day.
Its a rather interesting combination of hockey, luge, curling, football, and tag. Definately not for the weak of heart. Of course, the legend around here is Augustus Sigismund von Barfly, a retired, half-pay Colonel of Barfly's Freicorps. He won the Runner's Competition for five years in a row!
Ah! There's the Noon Gun now! The race has begun. For all its rough and tumble, there are elements of strategy and tactics envolved. Each Barrell Team must hurry, but they cannot lose control of their momentum. They also must not be too far in advance, lest they be intercepted by an Inn and Bar Team.
The Inn and Bar Teams can snatch more scarves if they separate, but it will take both of them to try and stop a barrell, so they cannot get too far apart.
The Runners must stay ahead of the Barrell Teams to win, yet if they get too far out in front, their scarves are easier to pick off."
After a few moments, the rumbling of wooden staves on cobblestones could be heard above the roaring of the crowd. It promised to be a memorable day!