One of my favorite things about living in a small city like New Braunfels, Texas is the festivals they hold. Cities throughout the United States find the funniest reasons to have fun. Niceville, where we lived in Florida, holds the Mullet Festival: a 3 day celebration centered around the mullet fish. Friday, October 29th marked the opening of the 50th edition of Wurstfest: a salute to sausages that has become an old German tradition nestled in the Texas Hill Country. The festival held at Landa Park runs through to Sunday November 7th.
A very condensed version of its history is that in 1961 a meat inspector and a veterinarian, Ed Grist, started a one-day festival to celebration sausage as a way encourage tourists in New Braunfels in the cooler months. The festival has since grown to 10 days attracting over 120,000 people from all over the world including New Braunfels sister city, Braunfels, Germany. Mayor of Braunfels, Wolfgang Keller and the Count of Braunfels, Johannes Graf von Oppersdorff – a direct descendant of the founder of New Braunfels, Prince Carl Solms are included amongst the special guests. This year is expected to mark the festivals largest turnout since it began.
So far we have visited the festival twice. Opening night on Friday we took advantage of the free admission before 7pm and headed on over. Again we headed there Wednesday night and enjoyed the musical talents of Squeezebox followed by the rock star of Polka, the Alex Meixner Band. Now I am not one to beg, “Let’s go to a polka show” but I must admit that Alex, reminiscent of Harry Connick Jr. is very entertaining, and played a wide variety of music. We left the big tent dancing to “Play that funky music,” polka? – I think not!
We had trouble choosing dinner with so many options in the big food hall. I was intrigued by the food on a stick concept, while my husband was distracted by the chicken hats. Fortunately he managed to fight the urge to purchase but we did indulge in chicken and sausage on a stick.
Choices included the meat on the stick, turkey legs, bratwurst, wild wings, German plate dinners, funnel cakes, kartoffelpuffer, (deep-fried German potato pancakes delicacy) and many others. Our children were kept busy enjoying the carnival rides. And of course we tried the festival famous Shiner Brewery’s 50th anniversary Wurstfest beer.
New Braunfels Benefits
There is more to the festival than just fun as it serves the hill country community all year. Through the festival, the Wurstfest Association raises money from the various side attractions to fund community organizations hosting the events. Additionally, admissions go towards beautification of the festival grounds among other things. There is also a Wurstfest scholarship and a four weeks student exchange program to Braunfels, Germany funded by the association.
Other businesses and organizations also benefit from the influx of tourist activity to the hill country by providing additional activities during the festival period. There are extended markets, craft shows, charity runs, the Tour de Greune, a play by the Circle Arts Theater and the 42nd annual Wurstfest Regatta located on Canyon Lake about 20 miles from the festival grounds.
Wurstfest wraps up this Sunday. The 10-day fest is open weekdays at 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 11 am. Wurstfest closes at 10 p.m. Wednesday, midnight Thursday and Friday, 1 a.m. Saturday night and 10 p.m. on the final Sunday.
Festival admission is $8. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit wurstfest.com where you can print a coupon for one free admission with one paid admission.
What is the craziest featured excuse for a festival you have enjoyed?