Wurstfest October 29th thru November 7, 2010

New Braunfels, Texas

Oh gosh - since Halloween was just this last weekend, then it means that New Braunfels' annual celebration of sausage and meat-onna-stick in every form imaginable and sudsy, tasty adult beverages must be in full swing. Landa Park, all this week until Sunday. Just drive north on IH-35, exit at New Braunfels and look for the lederhosen, dirndls and very strange hats. Seriously, follow them to Landa Park, to the permanent Wurstfest grounds by the old municipal waterworks, where Texas and Germany collide head-on, with fascinating and flavorful results.

Image a German beer garden blended with a regional mid-west county fair, lightly sprinkled with your favorite Texas BBQ pit - the kind of place with a huge BBQ pit out in back, and everything served with home-made sauce - that's Wurstfest. Really, you haven't lived until you've listened to a Teutonic umpah band play "America the Beautiful." You might have, but you still would have missed a lot of the fun of it. We went last year, and will go again, of course; it's a couth and family-friendly excursion and only a short hop from San Antonio.

It's another one of those things about South Texas that visitors from other states might not know - that there was historically a strong German element which settled in this part of Texas. The very name ‘New Braunfels' ought to be a dead giveaway; the town was founded by a German nobleman, Prince Karl of Solms-Braunfels, who named it after his home castle.

Alas, the prince - while having a nice eye for location, location, location - had first been taken in by a couple of shady dealers who essentially landed him and his backers in Germany, sight unseen, with what they thought was a huge and much more promising tract. Which happened to be in the middle of the southern Comanche tribe's hunting grounds, so settlement there would not be possible - or even survivable for another twenty-five years or so. Prince Karl and the settlers that he and his organization brought from Germany settled down in the Hill Country, and around San Antonio, where some of them established an inordinate number of still-existing concerns, like the Menger Hotel, the Pioneer Flour Mills and the Y.O. Ranch.

And while you're at Wurstfest, don't miss the Spass Haus, with one of the worlds largest collections of beer bottles on tap. It's either a bottle museum with a bar in the middle, or a bar decorated with 17,000 historic beer bottles of all nations.