49th annual "Salute to Sausage" - Wurstfest 2009 -
New Braunfels, Texas
There are festivals, and then there are festivals, and practically every small town in America has a celebration of a favorite locally-produced or cultivated edible speciality: Gilroy, California celebrates garlic, Whiting, Indiana fetes the pierogi, Buffalo celebrates (what else?) Buffalo wings, the Yarmouth Clam Festival needs no explanation, and New York's Little Italy section celebrates the glories of Italian food at the Feast of San Gennaro. Closer to home, it's strawberries in Poteet, and thumping watermelons in Luling, but New Braunfels has the very, very wurst.
Wurst, that is. Hot, sizzling, spicy and infinite in variety and complexity - straight from the Old Country. Which, in the case of New Braunfels, means Germany. Back in the middle of the 19th century, hard times and political upheaval in the various states and principalities contributed a veritable flood of German immigrants. Within the space of a few years, a complicated and well-meant entrepreneur scheme dumped upwards of seven thousand ethnic Germans on the far Texas frontier. In the space of a few years more, they had organized all the comforts and culture of home - to include their own particular culinary delights, the brewing of beer and the performing of music. Or as was inelegantly put elsewhere - sausage, suds and song.
All of that is to be found in bounteous quantities, at the annual Wurstfest, in Landa Park, New Braunfels, over ten days beginning on October 30th, with opening ceremonies in the Wursthalle - or as my rough translation has it - The Grand Hall of Sausages! It goes on for ten days thereafter, music and Gemütlichkeit galore, all of it in around Landa Park in facilities that have been expanded and enlarged.
2009 - October 30 - Novermber 8
When the whole thing started, in 1961, it was conceived as a one-day celebration of the sausage, after a week of local cafes featuring sausage dishes, and grocery stores running specials. Then it became "Wurst Week" and finally burst into glorious flower as Wurstfest the festival, serving local wurst and other German specialties in every conceivable form, including wurst-ba-bobs and sauerkraut pizza, polka contests, performances by local and international brass bands, and the world's largest collection of beer bottles. Special events scheduled for this years' Wurstfest include craft shows, runs/walks/bicycle rides, a regatta, special exhibits at the Sophienburg Museum, at the and the New Braunfels Railway museum, and an old fashioned melodrama entitled "Bratwurst - the Adventures of Bratman and Robin."
Rain or shine, this year's Wurstfest opens on Friday afternoon, October 30th - November 8th, in the Wursthalle, on the festival grounds in Landa Park - admission is free for the first hours, otherwise admission is $8.00, at the gate or by pre-order through the Wurstfest website.
And if you absolutely positively cannot wait until then, or even come visit New Braunfels in late October, you can get your sausage and smoked meats fix by mail-order, through the New Braunfels Smoke House.
2011 - November 4 - 13
2012 - November 2 - 11