On it’s 49th year, Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas is an amazing celebration of German culture. The size of the fest is second only to Milwaukee’s German Fest in the USA. New Braunfels sports at least 3 stages of non stop live entertainment and a huge hall full of food vendors offers an eclectic mix of food, drink, trinkets, and souvenirs. Spanning 10 days, Wurstfest will host over 165,000 visitors.
We had the fortune of meeting up with all our Texas friends: Pete & Karen from our first trip, Michael & Mary, Larry & Bonnie, and Jerry & Bernie and their family. And, Jersey Bill and buddy Dave also flew in from the East Coast.
We flew from Rhinelander Wisconsin and were to make 1 stop in Eau Claire on our way into Minneapolis. High winds and runway construction grounded our plane in Eau Claire. We grabbed the last rental car for the remaining 75 miles. Seeing that our San Antonio plane started in Minot, ND, the report was that we would have a 3 hour delay. On our way, we realized we passed through Hudson, Wisconsin – home of the Winzer Stube with some great German food and drink. We pulled off the interstate and parked ourselves at the bar for about 75 minutes. Upon paying the bill, I checked the flight status. Minot still showed a long day, but MSP to San Antonio showed it was on-time. It suddenly occurred to us that it was a different aircraft at Minneapolis. With Vonia driving, we raced against the clock. We dropped the car at Hertz, ran through the terminal, and made our plane with 5 minutes to spare.
Arriving on time, our driver from New Braunfels picked us up and got us to our house at the Schlitterbahn Resort. Shortly after getting into our house, Larry and Bonnie appeared with German beer and Jersey and Dave weren’t far behind. We had a great time reconnecting and found our way to bed at 2am.
Saturday morning we donned our Lederhosen and enjoyed breakfast at the oldest bakery in Texas, Naegelin‘s. The pasty and coffee was great. We met up with Pete & Karen and Michael and Mary at the gate. I was amazed to see the big tent with music already underway and carnival rides already quite full at noon. We proceeded to the Wursthalle and secured a table near the stage for our growing party. Jerry and Bernie showed up with their daughter and son with their respective spouses.
Our first mission was the beer supply. We each bought tickets and proceed to the import beer stand. They offered Paulaner Hefe-weizen, lager/helles, and Oktoberfest. Also on draft was Warsteiner dunkles and Spaten dunkles and Helles. For the non-beer drinker, Budweiser products were broadly available. Beer prices were high: $6.00 for a 16 ounce cup and $25 for a 2 liter pitcher.
The booths in the hall were a great attraction. Bonnie had some freshly made potato chips – the potato is peeled, sliced and fried before your eyes. I had the schnitzel sandwich and shrimp on a stick. Vonia had potato soup, chicken fajita taco and a carmeled apple. The was all kinds of sausages, but no Weisswurst!
The souvenir stands were very cool – one had a great selection of German beer steins – the commemorative .5 liter stein with lid was $119! Other booths offered German pins, trinkets and T-shirts.
The best entertainment was at the outdoor tents. Several of us watch Veronika Lenz sing and yodel. She has a great voice and was backed up by 4 beautiful girls in black and yellow mini-Dirndls.
They called themselves the Muenchener Kindl show. Though the sang to a recorded track, they sang, twirled, danced and played the bells. Afterward, Jersey met the girls, got autographs, and bought their CD.
The next act featured an accordionist, Terry Cavanagh, and a 15 year old girl, Catie Offerman, on the fiddle. They were supported by a family of dancers and the crowd was quite entertained. Then the female fiddler subdued the crowd with Brahms and then let loose a firey rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The young lady is quite a prodigy.
We gathered up the gang for 1 mile hike to downtown New Braunfels. We secured a table of 15 at the Friesenhaus. They offed great food and even had some entertainment – which our group helped out by turning the evening into a sing-a-long.
After dinner, we said our good-byes and went our separate ways. But 6 of us (why is it always 6?) went back to Wurstfest. Das grosse Zelt had the Alex Meixner band jamming like there was no tomorrow. A young man, he played the accordion like it was lead guitar. Accompanied by yet another accordion, drums, and a horn player who kept changing instruments, these guys rocked the place! We were actually on our way out of the fest when we heard these boys playing. Agreeing to listen to just one song, we stood in the tent for 20 minutes of sustained, full-tilt jamming. Bonnie and I were swept into a conga line and, worn out completely, we reluctantly resolved to call it a night.
Next year we plan to be back to Wurstfest and hope to entice some of our non-Texan BayernTrips friends to join us in the Lone Star State for a Texas-styled Oktoberfest celebration!