New Braunfels, Texas, holds its annual Wurstfest, a celebration of German heritage and culture and the tasty food that goes along with it, Nov. 6-15. Taking place at the dedicated Wurstfest grounds, located next to Landa Park, the 10-day Oktoberfest-style event features music, beer and, of course, sausage.
Vendors sell traditional German sausages bratwurst and knackwurst. Other food options include sauerkraut, kartoffelpuffer potato pancakes, strudel, bread pudding, funnel cakes, pretzels and pastries. Wurstfest will also offer 55 beers on tap, mainly German imports and American craft beers.
Bands and other musical performers will bring traditional German styles, like polka and yodeling, to five stages. As it has since 1971, Circle Arts Theatre will put on its annual performances of a melodrama entitled “Beauty and the Wurst.”
Other events will include an art show, a bicycle race, a regatta, a five-mile run and a tournament of the card game, Skat. The tournament, sponsored by the Texas State Skat League, is intended to encourage greater interest in the three-player German trick-taking game.
A Texas tradition
The Texas culinary arts world is full of grand traditions, and New Braunfels, a city about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio and just under 50 miles southwest of Austin, has been carrying its on since 1961. That is when the city, which was founded by German settlers in 1845, saw its first Sausage Festival.
The inaugural event attracted 2,000 visitors to the National Guard Armory. It had been intended to take place at Landa Park but was moved due to concerns with the weather, according to the New Braunfels Information Center. The festival moved to the park and carried on through a second year, despite a terrible storm.
Over the years, the name changed first to Wurst Week and then Wurstfest. It took up residence at the Wursthalle in 1967 and lengthened from a week to 10 days the following year. The Texas State Historical Association credited the festival, under the direction of the nonprofit Wurstfest Association, with raising millions of dollars for community projects.
Changing with the times
Despite the event’s long history and and strong sense of tradition, the organizers of Wurstfest have made efforts to keep it exciting and maintain high attendance figures.
Wurstfest added craft beers for the first time in 2014, building on a selection previously dominated by German imports alone. The same year, the festival grounds expanded, adding two acres called the Stelzenplatz. The area features a beer garden, a stage for musical performances and vendors.
See the Wurstfest website for more information or to purchase tickets.