Introduction

Awash in lederhosen and fahrvergnügen (driving pleasure) and lots of other questionable German cliches, gingerbread-trimmed Helen is a little bit of Bavaria in Appalachia (call it 'Alppalachia', if you will). It is certainly a startling, out-of-place sight. In the grand tradition of other touristy German villages like Colonia Tovar (Venezuela) and Gramado (Brazil), here scores of North Georgians and Atlanta day-trippers (some 1.5 million per year) run amok among German-style architecture fueled by steins of Dunkelweizens, Doppelbocks and Pils like it's Oktoberfest year-round. This kitschy, Epcot-style Alpine playground was dreamed up in the 1960s by a few local businesspeople wanting to revitalize the town. In 1969 local businesses and carpenters got to work – with help from a local artist with German roots – transforming this former mill town into the self-proclaimed best little German town in America.