The Best of Times, the Wurst of Times

Actually, it’s very much the best of times in New Braunfels, Texas, this week, because Wurstfest is going on.

The Wurstfest started in a venue in down-town New Braunfels, but moved to permanent grounds in Landa Park, on the banks of the Comal River – grounds that now include three huge halls, adminstrative offices, and the Spass-Haus, which houses a portion of the largest collection of beer bottles in the world.

Nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine bottles of Bier on the wall….

The line to get in on Saturday at the front gate was extensive, but moved very fast. The organizers of it all … are very organized. Wurstfest is a family event during the days, and then a party event in the evenings.

One small stein for a man, one giant stein for all mankind…

One more time: Everything is bigger in Texas!

There’s carnival rides for the kids…

Including a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel…

Music … really, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard an Ooompha Band play Waltz Across Texas… and even the chickens get into it.

Das Chicken-Tanze!

And swing-dancing … in colorful native attire…

Really colorful native attire…

And cute small children in colorful native attire..

A lot of people attending and volunteering in the various food and merchandise booths also go for very strange hats. Like this –

Like this …

Or this …

I think it was a moose. Or a squirrel. Maybe moose and squirrel!

Too motifs in one – a chicken and a stein!

If you came without a strange hat, not to fear — you can buy one there. And also sample other interesting local delicacies besides sausage and beer.

German Tacos? OK … what about this?

Fried green pickles, and the usual meat-onna-stick…

But … chicken-fried bacon? I can hear arteries clogging all the way from San Antonio.

And to round it all off, a nightly melodrama in the little theater on the gounds …

Just think of it as an amusing class of cultures; what happens,  when Germany meets Texas. My daughter and I go every year, more to people-watch and take pictures … and to sample some of the local sausage-onna-stick. Many of the vendors get their supplies from a local meat market … which we hit on the way home, to stock up our freezer. It’s called Granzins. The locals go there, out of towners must make do with  the New Braunfels Smokehouse. 

Guten Tag, y’all!

12 thoughts on “The Best of Times, the Wurst of Times”

  1. I have to send this to my German friend – a place where they say “auf wiedersehn, y’all!”

    Isn’t there still a dialect of German still spoken there?

    I’d love to try a “German taco”!

  2. But you are correct Dan! FWIW the Bavarian s are sorta the Texans of Germany – fiercely independent and the rest of the Germans can hardly understand their dialect….

  3. A German taco – well, like the sign says, country sausage, jalapeno pepper cheese, maybe a bit of salsa, wrapped in a flour tortilla…

    There is a sort of 19th-century German still spoken in the Hill Country, but its’ mostly by the older generation, 75 and up. Up until WWI, everything was in the German language – schools, churches, newspapers – but starting in about 1920, a fair number of families made a decision to speak English as much as possible. I met an elderly man at a book-talk, who says that his parents did that; his older brother was completely fluent, but he – eight years younger – only knew a few phrases. There are linguists who come from Germany to talk to those old native-speakers, because they preserve certain usages that aren’t heard any more in Germany proper.

    During WWII, I was told by several historical-minded local people, that it was illegal to speak German in public. Which very inconvenienced a pastor of one of the Fredericksburg churches, as he was from a German-speaking canton of Switzerland … and didn’t easily speak English. He was warned, over and over again, but kept slipping up. Eventually he was sent to the Crystal City internment camp – but he didn’t mind much, as he had a full house for Sunday services.

    We do have German tourists who come through now and again – usually they are quite blown away to discover the German towns in the Hill Country. It’s just not what you expect, outside of Texas.

  4. I thought you could get a decent [American-made] wurst only in WI! At least, that’s what I remember from my visit to Milwaukee, about 7yrs ago, to a lighting seminar @Visa.

    Dan, I suggest you should give this fashion advice to this woman…her powers then expand to world domination.

  5. It’s not just Wisconsin :) What a relief.. but I imagine we still have more Lutefisk Dinners than anywhere else.

    However, according to Roots in the Rhineland, German immigration by the 1880s was 1 million per year, and by 1890, the USA was approximately 1/3 German. Puts a whole new look on WW1.

  6. My uncle told me that, prior to World War I, the Chicago schools had portraits of the Kaiser. He used to go down to a barge in south Chicago to get blood sausage he called “horse cock” sausage. He said there was nothing like it. I believed him. He was the one who, with his parents, were booked on the Titanic but were bumped.

  7. During WW1 anything German was verboten I have a dog called an “American Eskimo” here – funny name – they are really a white German Spitz – but during WW1 the name “Spitz” was frowned upon here and they became “American Eskimos”

    The “Pennsylvania Dutch” (really “Deutsch” but to English speaking ears it sounded “Dutch” – anyway I am told some speak a dialect not hears since the 16th century – when they came here – and simularly linguist come over to hear – history.

    I will have to pay a visit to New Braunfels – I remember reading during the Civil War most of the Texas Germans were for the North which made things very difficult for them – and most of the country. (Musing now) – was telling someone today about the history of West Virginia – where my mother’s family is from – they break off from VA in 1863 during the Civil War but even then half the counties (towards PA) were for the North while half (towards KY) were for the South.

    Terrible times.

    Anyway Sgt thank you for giving us a “virtual tour” o a little known area of TX – if I am not mistaken Fredricksburg is also in this area?

    I do believe I would have to have a lot of Spaten beer before wearing one of those hats ;-)

  8. You’re welcome, Bill … and yes, during the Civil War, most of the German parts of the Hill Country were abolitionist, anti-secessionist and very much pro-Union. There was almost a whole mini-Civil War in the Hill Country. Which resulted, among other things, in the “True to the Union” monument in Comfort.
    I covered all of that in Book Two of the Adelsverein Trilogy, by the way. It was said for decades after the Civil War, that the Hangerbande (the hanging band, the pro-Confederate vigilantes) killed more men in the Hill Country during the war – then the Indians ever did … before, during or after.

  9. Thanks Sgt – I have found you on Amazon – bookmarked it – and as I whittle down the books already sitting by my bed – will get to a bit of “Texas Geschichte (history).

    I am interested that you wrote about the Donner Party – interesting history. The town of Marysville – just north of Sacramento – is named for a daughter of one of the survivors, I believe.

  10. My parents have made a trek or two south – it’s not just Germans, but you can find colonies of Russians down that way as well!

  11. From my German friend (now living in Switzerland working for a video company)

    Hi Bill,

    thanks for sending me this. I know about the Wurstfest because my sister lived in New Braunfels for a year back in the early 90s. I have to pass this on to her.


Comments are closed.