The Big Fight-Sisterdale

Jack Hays’ Big Fight at Walker’s Creek

In Sisterdale, on Sunday June 8th, historical enthusiasts from across Kendall County and beyond are observing the 170th anniversary of the battle of Walker’s Creek – Jack Hays’ Big fight at the Sisterdale Dance Hall.

Jack Hays came to Texas late in 1836, worked as a surveyor, and commanded a roving Ranger company based in San Antonio in the 1840s. The Big Fight on Walker Creek made his name; one of the many brush-fire fights between Hays’ Rangers and Comanche raiders, who came down from the Southern Plains to make free with any horses, captives and portable loot they could carry away. In the summer of 1844, Captain Hays took a patrol of fourteen volunteers into the hills, looking for Indian raiding parties. One of his men was a Yankee from Maryland – Sam Walker, who had survived the Texian raid on Mier, the Black Bean Draw and an escapee from a stint in a Mexican prison. They were returning along an old trail between San Antonio and the deserted San Saba presidio. Near Sisterdale, a little short of where the trail crossed the Guadalupe River, they were about to set up camp for the night, when one of the Rangers spotted a honey-bee hive. The temptation of something sweet couldn’t be resisted, but when he shinnied up the tree, he looked back along the trail and saw they were followed by a dozen Comanche warriors.

The Rangers saddled up; seeing they had been spotted, the Indians turned away, heading off towards a timber-lined ravine nearby … obviously hoping to draw the Ranger troop into an ambush. Jack Hays held fast, and within minutes more than seventy impatient Comanche boiled out of the tree-line and the Rangers advanced. Likely the Comanche were surprised and unnerved; they fell back across the ravine and gathered on the summit of a low hill, where they dismounted and taunted the Rangers in Spanish – a language that Comanche and Texian had in common.

They had the high ground but the Rangers had a secret weapon – the newly-invented patent Colt Paterson 5-shot repeating pistols. Most had two, and Jack Hays had drilled them well. He led his troop around the knoll, and up another ravine, announcing themselves with a shout and a volley of rifle-fire. The Comanche rallied around their leader; Yellow Wolf, experienced in the customary way of war, in which they waited to draw fire from single-shot weapons, and counter-attacked in a flurry of arrows as the Texians reloaded. This process could take as long as a minute. But the Rangers threw aside their single-shot long guns and charged with their pistols. It turned into a bitter running fight at such close quarters that many participants were branded with powder burns. Jack Hays had trained and drilled tirelessly. It was a rout for the Comanche, faced with a weapon where the attacker had as many bullets to command as fingers on a hand. At the moment when the Rangers were about out of time and gunpowder, a fortunate shot by the only Ranger with a loaded rifle dropped Yellow Wolf. The survivors of his war party turned and ran.

Two years later, that skirmish was immortalized in the annals of American invention. At the start of the American war with Mexico, Sam Walker was back east, consulting with his fellow Yankee inventor Sam Colt about a redesign of the revolving pistol. Sam Walker wanted a heavier, sturdier, and less-complicated version – it would eventually be called the Walker Colt. At the urging of Sam Colt, Walker did a sketch of skirmish on the hills above Sisterdale and eventually it was embossed on the barrel of the improved revolver. And that’s the way it was, in the summer of 1844.

Bulverde and Spring Branch Market Days

Beautiful Bulverde

by Celia Hayes

This last Saturday was spent at the Bulverde and Spring Branch Chamber of Commerce’s Spring Market Day – and my daughter and I spent all of Saturday among more than sixty vendors set up among the oak trees in the Beall’s parking lot, at Bulverde Crossing and Hwy 46W. Bulverde, Spring Branch, and Smithson Valley are … well, Bulverde is not so much a well-defined township as a place like Boerne, New Braunfels or Helotes. They were once entirely separate towns or hamlets, with a defined center – perhaps even an established square – overtaken in recent years by the sprawl of San Antonio to the north and extensive developments of new houses quilt-patched here and there among the old ranch properties, cedar thickets and rolling hills sprinkled with tiny seasonal creeks, grass-meadows and stands of oak trees.

Of course this is totally changed now – the sprawl of San Antonio Hill Country real estate is stretching out into the lower levels of the Hill Country. The nearer little towns are subsumed into the larger city and the farther ones are commuter-suburbs. Bulverde is a little harder to pin down, because it is not one of those with a central identity. It is like the place in California where my parents built their retirement home – one of those sprawling rural localities where there was a significant establishment here – a school or a significant church, perhaps, and another one there – the hardware store, maybe, and a third one –the general store or the tiny industrial enterprise which provided employment, still there … all scattered among several nexus cross-roads over several square miles. No, it doesn’t look like the classical definition of a town, but it is a community.

Bulverde is one of those; dispersed hither and yon around 281 and a couple of older parallel and cross-roads, rather like the rural township where my parents set up their retirement house. A couple of crossroads the length of a long valley in the foothills, with a number of small truck farms, chicken ranches, nut groves scattered along them, and essential retail outlets clustered around various cross-road nodes. Bulverde is all that, and patched with a good few recent housing developments rejoicing in being located in the Hill Country, and yet a short drive from the outskirts of San Antonio. One of the most prominent nodes is at 281 and 46W – it’s where the Super HEB and the Home Depot is, along with an elementary school and a couple of other essential retail outlets. It still has a rural feel to it, as those houses around are scattered throughout like raisons in a loaf of raisin bread. And the parking lot itself was partly shaded by oak trees left standing when the shopping center was built – which made it especially pleasant. Even so, we did get slightly sun-burned, though.

The Spring market is one of those which doesn’t charge a huge table fee – we rather think that this leads to a more interesting variety of vendors. Only the semi-pros can afford a high table fee, which leads pretty much to a certain sameness at larger and more regularly-held markets, as smaller or beginning vendors can’t be assured of making back the table fee and then a spot of profit. I think the most interesting and unusual items were from Natural Metals – all kinds of ornamental sculptures of animals, fish, and plants made from various metals and then painted. Next best – handcrafted wooden rolling horse toys from Soyawannabe A Cowboy, which were beautifully made and as sturdy as all get out. We lunched, by the way, on the best tamales evah! Tamale Addiction does a lot of local events, and the tamales were so good we wished we could have gone back and bought them out for future meals at the end of the day!

Sisterdale

Hill Country Venture

by Celia Hayes

So, knowing that on Saturday, May 10, that we will be tied up all day in the hot-pink-and-zebra-striped booth in the Beall’s parking lot at 281 and Bulverde Crossing for the Bulverde Spring market – and that we had some projects to finish before then – my daughter and I declared Friday, May 2 to be our personal holiday, and embarked on a short road trip into the Hill Country. Yes, we love the Hill Country, especially when it appears to have been blessed with slightly more rain than we have had in San Antonio. I wanted to get some snaps that I could use for the cover of my next book, but alas – the bluebonnets were at their best last month.

We went up through the back-road between Boerne and Luckenbach, which leads through Sisterdale; home of the Sister Creek Winery, and the Sisterdale Market just across the street from it – a tiny market, eatery and weekend event venue, where Chico the Tiny Chihuahua returned miraculously on last New Years Day, after an absence of about three weeks. We had a nice chat with the owner and admiring Chico, who apparently survived by hiding out in armadillo holes and drinking from a tiny spring, where his even tinier footprints were later noted. The Sisterdale Market is a charming place, in an old house by the side of the road. During Prohibition days, there was an illicit still in operation in the cellar – whoa – a cellar, for real? The still itself was, according to the current owner, taken out and buried someplace out in back. You’d have thought that the metal parts would have been easily found … but between Sister Creeks, the soil is rich and deep, and easily-dug.

The Sister Creek Winery is another indicator of how steadily the Hill Country is progressing to a state where it might yet be mistaken for the south of France; not only have entrepreneurs experimented with producing goat cheese, olive oil and lavender over the last twenty years or so – there are also vineyards galore. Sister Creek is one of the longer-established; even on a non-holiday Friday there were cars outside – including a massive white stretch limo.

The show-room is an old cotton-gin, built of heavy oak beams, low-ceilinged and smelling of ancient wood. The newer part, where the heavy-lifting of making wine is done, has been added at the back; rooms where the grapes are processed and aged, first in huge stainless-steel tanks, and then in wooden barrels – rank after rank, each labeled with what they are and how long they have been sitting. Some of them are rather heavily stained around the massive wooden bung on top; and that lends another wonderful odor. When I was a very small child, I remember visiting a winery with my parents and grandparents; a wonderful place, set in a garden, and one huge wooden wine-vat, which must have measured at least thirty feet across, and two or three stories tall. It had been retired from active wine-ageing duty and converted into a kind of pavilion in the garden, but the smell of it inside was positively intoxicating in itself. I don’t know if any of the wineries here now age wine in huge wooden barrels like that any more – but it would be a landmark if they did. After all, everything in Texas is supposed to be bigger.

Home Renovation Time

Home Renewal

by Celia Hayes

With the sale of the acreage in California coming down the home stretch in escrow, we have been considering what to do with the money from the sale of the land. Oh, a certain amount will be plowed back into the purchase of a Hill County Lot of half acre to an acre, but the immediate need is to spend about half of it on the current house. It was originally built by Centex around 1985, but all the components in it were construction grade and purchased by the warehouse-load. The light fixtures and fittings, the carpeting, linoleum, cabinets and countertops, sinks and toilets, the doors and windows, the installed appliances, the HVAC systems … all were pretty much uniform. Over the years, many of our neighbors have replaced certain elements, which we have recognized as they were put out for the bulk trash pick-up or to be taken away by the renovators.

I ripped out the carpeting in our house myself, long since, and replaced just about all of the light fixtures, but other more serious replacements and upgrades have had to wait until now. While waiting for escrow to close, we were not sitting around twiddling our thumbs. We were auditioning contractors to replace the HVAC system, and the windows. Those two were the most critical needs; critical because the CPS bill has been climbing insidiously upwards over the last few years. The original system was – as the maintenance company told me for many years – the wrong size, badly situated, and indifferently-installed. When extremely cold in the winter and hot in the summer, my daughter preferred to sleep in the den, since her bedroom was so uncomfortable. As for the windows – aluminum-framed double-paned and screens with frames so flimsy they bent if you looked at them cross-eyed – any trace of argon gas between the glass panes was a distant memory.

The HVAC contractor was an easy choice; we really only considered one, which had done such a bang-up job for a neighbor that he has been singing their praises ever since. He got a rebate on his CPS bill which has been good for months – that was the kind of thing that we are passionately interested in. What I would have paid to CPS will go into replacing the windows, which should cut down that bill even more. As for other projects – countertops, cabinets and floors, that may have to be done piecemeal, although we have a darned good chance of picking out some bargains at the Habitat for Humanity Home Center on Walzem.

We were there last weekend, scoping out cabinets and front doors, mostly. The Home Center is stocked with donations – both builder/construction surplus and donations from homeowners doing remodels. They even offer a tear-out service; they will come and take out old cabinets and countertops, without damaging them – and well, we approve of recycling, especially if it is good quality to start with. The one project we considered tackling ourselves, or with the help of a friend who does minor construction, is replacing the front door. The sealing around the door has degraded about as much as the windows. We spotted some exterior doors at the Home Center which would work very, very well … and even with paying the friend to help install the darned thing, it still would be less than the cost of doing it at Lowe’s. Hmm … calk, nails, a level, screwdriver, tape-measure. Doable, definitely.

Jams and Preserves A Specialty Shop in Fredericksburg

A Little Local Home Grown Company

by Celia Hayes

So, I came to San Antonio for my final tour of Air Force duty in 1995 – but I think it took a little while for me to discover Fredericksburg, and the lovely, tasty specialty food products put out by Fischer and Wieser, of Fredericksburg in the Hill Country. It is in my mind that for the first couple of years, Fredericksburg was the only place that you could buy them anyway. Certainly all the little gourmet food outlets along Main Street had a good selection of Fischer & Wieser jams and preserves. There was an annex to Das Peach Haus in a teeny former residence near to the Nimitz Museum, which is where we usually bought those items which took our fancy.

Looking at the company website, it appears that was about the time that Case Fischer developed the Roasted Raspberry Chipotle sauce, which in movie parlance, was a tiny little local biasness’s First Big Break. Roasted Raspberry Chipotle is magnificent, by the way, but at first it must have seemed to be one of the weirdest concoctions ever proposed. Smoked Mexican chipotle peppers … and runny raspberry jam? Together? Hoooo-kay… But it put Fischer & Wieser – and chipotle peppers on the map. (For my money, the best thing on grilled shrimp is the ginger-habanero sauce, though. After driving past Das Peach Haus every time we came in to Fredericksburg by the road from Comfort – we finally stopped and went inside, and realized that – oh, my, it is bigger than it looks! There are little patches of landscaped garden all around, shaded by a grove of pine trees. And there are resident cats, too – always a good indication of quality, no matter if the product is books, garden stuff … or gourmet foods.

But the peach orchard which was the genesis of the company has been around since the Wieser family bought the property in the 1920s, and their son Mark opened a roadside fruit stand in 1969. There are a lot of seasonal roadside fruit stands on the main roads leading to Fredericksburg, and the Peach Haus was just one of them. The family sold fresh peaches, of course, and home-made peach preserves. Mark Wieser also taught school – and one of his students often helped out at peach harvesting time. Case Fischer was so keen on the possibilities of a specialty-food, development, marketing and entrepreneurship, that he went off to college and studied all that … and when he came home to Fredericksburg, he teamed up with his old teacher, and set about innovating, creating and producing quality foods; sauces for meats and pastas, mustards, jams and preserves, pie filling, salad dressing and dips.

And instead of just keeping it a local thing, Fischer & Wieser went national. Within a couple of years, I didn’t have to make the long drive up to Fredericksburg for some Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce – it and other products were on the shelves at the local HEB – even my own local, which usually is a little light on the gourmet goods. Even better – they are available in military commissaries and on Amazon.com. Not bad for a tiny local enterprise which started as a roadside fruit stand. Yes, indeedy – they did build that business.

But look out for the Ghost Pepper BBQ sauce … more than a quarter of a teaspoon can be lethal. I think it’s made for people who think straight Tabasco is just too darned bland.

Texas Barbeque…The Food of the Gods

Texas BBQ

It’s just one of those things – Texas should be so large a state as to have not one, but several different regional variants in barbeque stylings. Yes, in less-blessed climes, barbeque is done by just throwing your choice of animal flesh on the grill on the back porch and allowing it to char slowly over the coals or (byte ones tongue) propane flame. I have even run across *shudder* recipes for marinated and grilled slabs of tofu.

Sorry – barbeque here means mainly beef, although pork, turkey, chicken, sausages, and even cabrito – or goat and mutton – makes an appearance in the borderland Hispanic variant of barbecoa. There is the east Texas variant; marinated beef cooked slowly over hickory wood until the meat falls from the bone and served with a thick, tomato-based sauce, the central Texas option; beef or other meats rubbed with spices and cooked slowly over pecan or oak wood, and the south Texas style which features cooking over mesquite – an acquired taste. South Texas style preference is for a thick sauce and moist meat. A great many of the old established independent barbeque places began as meat markets, where the butcher – in the days before deep-freeze refrigeration – thriftily began to smoke and slow-cook all those leftover or unsellable bits at the end of the day, providing them as ready-to-eat morsels the next day. Waste not, want not, as the saying goes.

Frankly, to me, it’s all good, no matter what variant and the selection of commercial sauces available at the local HEB will prove that we love it here, either D-I-Y or from the local maestro of the pit. In the main, people here have high standards when it comes to making barbeque themselves, and adamant concerning the virtues of all those places which provide it; from chains like Bill Miller with outlets everywhere, through enormous single-standing locations like the Kreus Market in Lockhart, and then there are tiny and often locally famous places – like the Riverside Meat Market in Boerne (cunningly disguised as a meat market in the back of a corner Shell gas station) – and even the peripatetic Smoke Shack, a food truck which is usually, but not always to be found just inside the 410 Loop at Nacogdoches, parked in what used to be a gas station. Aficionados will drive any number of miles to sample the glories of an independent barbeque outlet … and many other aficionados will also pay interestingly substantial amounts for grills and smokers of every description, although I will note that to the hard-core, propane is frowned upon. It’s all in the wood and cooking it long and slow, in the flavored smoke. For a while, I had one of those inexpensive barrel-shaped cylindrical smoker-griller things, which did an amazing job for the price – save that I had to cook a huge lot at a time, which was only cost-effective if I was expecting to feed a small army on hickory-smoked chicken.

These days, I have to cheat, with my daughter’s propane grill from Lowe’s – which does the job – and I suspect that if I tinkered with it a bit, and figured out a way to put in a pan of soggy wood-chips and keep the heat really, really low – I might have some decently-flavored barbeque.

A couple of years ago, we had a celebration supper at our place, using a recipe for chicken, from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. The sauce is sublime and hereby passed on.

Sauté until translucent in ½ cup oil: 1 ½ cups chopped onions and 1 Tbsp minced garlic. Add: 1 cup tomato paste, 1 cup cider vinegar, 1 cup honey, ½ cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup Dijon mustard, ½ cup soy sauce, 1 cup Hoisin sauce, 2 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp ground cumin, and ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes. Simmer uncovered, over low heat for half an hour.

Cut up 2 2½ -3 lb chickens, and marinate them overnight in 2/3rds of the sauce. Roast them over low heat for about 45 minutes, basting them with marinade. Serve with the reserved sauce on the side.

Hauptstrasse Quiltfest in Boerne

The Allure of the Quilt

by Celia Hayes

Once again this last weekend, we were lured to the pleasant bedroom-slipper community of Boerne by the charms of the Squirrel’s Nest on Main Street, which supports the totally worthy services provided by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation to animal-kind of this part of Texas. This visit also coincided with the celebration of a uniquely American art form – with contemporary examples hung from storefronts, and along the sides of Boerne’s town plaza. They made a splendid show, all through downtown, and many of the businesses along Main Street (or Hauptstrasse) also had window displays incorporating quilts – and many of them were offering drinks … although we had to turn down the offers of margaritas at one otherwise inviting establishment. Were they non-alcoholic? My daughter doesn’t drink, and although I do, 1:30 in the afternoon is just to darned early. There was a lemonade stand in front of one place though. Perhaps we should have gone back…

Anyway; quilts – an essentially American fabric art form, which pretty much runs the gamut from the brutally practical to the over-the-top artistic. Many examples of the latter were on display this weekend; lovingly designed and carefully calculated to draw the eye and to show off the design skills and the artistic eye of the person who made them. (Almost always a woman in the case of modern examples, and totally in the case of historical ones.) There are three different strands in quilt design, by the way, although very often they can be combined within a single quilt. There are quilts that are patched or pieced, in that scraps of fabric are sewn together to form plain or intricate geometric patterns. Then there is the use of an applique, where the design is cut out and appliqued to the fabric of the quilt top itself – and finally, there is white-work quilting, which is used on a length of plain fabric and depends on an elaborate pattern of stitching for the effect.

Historically a theme for the quilt was chose, pattern and color was selected from material either purchased or thriftily using scraps left over from making clothing. Then the quilt top pieces were cut, seamed together, and combined through various means with a padding and a backing to provide a reasonably warm and practicable bed-covering. All clear about the concept here? Things to cover a bed with, to keep people warm with on nights which might be cold, things which were often made on the cheap, utilizing scraps of woven fabrics, flour and seed sacks, and sewn together by women who didn’t have much free time… and such bedcovers were practical things which might on occasion be thrown up upon, or have other stains from bodily functions deposited on them … (urp).

Among some historic quilts shown off in the town plaza were a number made between 1920 to 1950 or so by the grandmother of the collector who had rescued them from storage in the old family farmhouse in Kentucky. Most were patchwork, in the simpler patterns and random fabric scraps, but one was particularly eye-catching, pieced together from pink and greenish-aqua cotton fabric in an interlocking pattern of rings. That had obviously been made from deliberately purchased fabric; and very likely intended to be a show-piece, for the best guest bedroom, perhaps. Two of the quilts were interesting in that they had been pieced together from rectangular patches of light-weight woolen men’s suiting. It seems that they had come from fabric sample books, and when the company catalog was updated, the seamstress had thriftily pieced together the outdated fabric samples. It made a very heavy quilt, in simple rectangles of muted shades of grey, brown, navy, and olive; not much to look at, designwise, but I’ll bet anything that quilt would have been warm to sleep under on a cold winter night.

Mobile Food Trucks of San Antonio

Eating on the Go

by Celia Hayes

Well, there is fast food, and then there is fast food – fast food that comes to the customer. When I was stationed in Korea such a convenience was called the ‘chogi’ truck, or as the local national employees called it ‘roooch-coachie’. It came around mid-morning to the building where I worked, dispensing hot sandwiches, snacks, candy bars, ice cream and bags of salted or sugared snack foods. But the chogi truck is to a food truck today as a Model T is to a Jeep Cherokee. They’re gasoline-powered motor vehicles, and they dispense food to the hungry … but the 21st century food truck tends to be a specialty gourmet kitchen on wheels. Certainly in a large and built-up city, there would be lots of hungry lunch-time customers.

Quite likely, a good number of those hungry workers would have exhausted all of the available and nearby restaurants and fast-food places. It’s an expensive and time-consuming operation, opening up a new restaurant in a profitable location in the big city. Conventional wisdom has it that the odds on a new restaurant venture failing within the first three years of operation are fairly high – so starting small with a food truck is a logical solution. Without the huge start-up expense of real estate and a building – all the budding chef-entrepreneur needs is a kitchen on wheels, a map of the city – and one which permits food trucks to park on streets relatively unhindered – and a lot of hungry customers. These days, it also helps to have a Facebook page.

Food trucks have a relatively long history, as these things go. According to the invaluable Wikipedia, the mobile kitchen/canteen had it’s origins in Texas – in the chuck-wagon developed by Charles Goodnight for use on the long-trail cattle drives after the Civil War, when the Transcontinental Railroad had pushed far enough into Kansas to make Texas cattle profitable in the larger markets of the East. From the horse-drawn chuck-wagon, came lunch trucks, which provided meals to shift-workers in the big cities, especially those working the night shift around the turn of the century. This trend continued, of lunch trucks serving meals at construction sites, and setting up at fairs and festivals. The US Army maintained mobile canteens – kitchens on wheels, which are most likely the direct ancestor of today’s food trucks.

According to the same source, the current popularity for food trucks coincided with the economic downturn; a plentitude of food-trucks with no construction sites to service, and a similar glut of hopeful chefs with no restaurants to work in. Necessity makes opportunities – and in this case, a very useful one. Out on 281 and Thousand Oaks, outside the 1604 Loop, a far-seeing local entrepreneur established a sort of gourmet food park – the Boardwalk on Bulverde, set aside for food trucks and customers to meet, greet, and eat. My personal favorite food truck is permanently parked on Nacogdoches, next to the Cordova Auto Center; Ericks Tacos, which has Mexican-style street food to die for and funky street-dining atmosphere to spare. Oh – and look out for the green sauce; nuclear fission in a small plastic cup. On a book trip up to Abilene, we ran across Short Bus Hot Dogs – which is a hotdog stand set up in a converted school bus. And yes, they have a Facebook page. Charlie Goodnight didn’t have any idea of what he set in motion, in 1866.

Guten Tag – Oktoberfest and Wurstfest

Guten Tag, Y’All – This is Texas!

by Celia Hayes

When I first came to Texas, at the express request of the US Air Force some (mumble) seventeen (mumble) years ago I thought I knew all there was to know about the place: the Alamo of course, and the Riverwalk, too. I knew that Houston had a Grand Opera, that Lubbock was a flat as a pancake griddle with some Monopoly houses set on it, I had read Edna Ferber’s Giant, and I knew about cattle drives and the King Ranch, and that Texas was called the buckle of the Bible Belt … I knew pretty much what any well-read traveler could pick up through the medium of pop culture and the base library.

What I did not know, until well after I got here and began to look around – was how very much more there was. Like all those other ethnic and cultural groups who came to Texas and make their mark – of which the Germans were the largest and most distinctive part. Who knew that Gillespie, Kendall, Comal and Kerr Counties had been almost exclusively German-speaking since before the Civil War and well up into the twentieth century. Now I do know – having spent the last few years researching and writing about that fascinating anomaly, as well as partaking in a good few of those local and particularly German celebrations. Right now we are coming up on Oktoberfest, as celebrated here in Texas. The original and still-ongoing Munich Oktoberfest began in the first decade of the 19th century, as celebration of the marriage of King Ludwig (then Crown Prince) of Bavaria to suitably Germanic princess, to which the general public was invited to attend. Once in the mood to celebrate, everyone was keen on keeping it on, and so it metamorphosed into agricultural fair – since this would be about the time that the yearly harvest was completed – a horse race, a parade … and all sorts of other things, to include beer, music, and partying.

So, it’s an honorable tradition, now having been celebrated for two centuries, almost without interruption, and those parts of Texas settled by Germans have taken to celebrating also, with suds, wurst, gusto and enthusiasm. No, really – you may see more funny hats at these bashes than you would have ever thought possible. In the main, they are local festivals, where outside enthusiasts are warmly welcomed; just as everyone is Irish for St. Patrick’s Day everyone is German for Oktoberfest – or in the case of New Braunfels, Wurstfest.

The most conveniently located Oktoberfest is in San Antonio, on the verge of Southtown, at the sprawling venue and gardens owned by the the Beethoven Maennerchor. One of the other big enthusiasms brought to Germany by German settlers was an appreciation for music, specifically choir-singing. The Beethoven Maennerchor Oktoberfest organization has a lovely outdoor terrace, where the revelry will continue for two nights; Friday and Saturday, October 5th and 6th – and Friday is coincidental with First Friday in Southtown.

Fredericksburg Oktoberfest, a short hour’s drive north in the Hill Country also has theirs, beginning on Friday, October 5th, but it continues through Sunday, on Marketplatz, in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg. This year, organizers plan for a mass performance of the chicken dance on Main Street, among other entertainments and diversions.

And finally – ever the non-conformists, New Braunfels’ big autumn German bash celebrates for sausage and beer rather than beer and then sausage … Wurstfest New Braunfels takes place later than everyone elses’, starting on the Friday before the first Monday in November; this year it all kicks off on November 2nd, at the permanent venue in Landa Park. So, get out the lederhosen or the dirndl, put on those cowboy boots, and get ready to party this month — German-style, in the heart of Texas.