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07 July 2005



2005 -- November 4-13
2006 -- November 3-12

New Braunfels, Texas, USA
Remember WURSTFEST always starts on the Friday before the first Monday in November.

This would be a great time to start planning for a group tour visit to WURSTFEST 2005. Just let us know how we can help.


The Wurst Story

Proclaimed by the Mayor for the first time in 1961, the festival honoring this most delectable of local foods was a one-day affair held on Saturday climaxing a week of activity featuring sausage dishes on menus of local cafes and specials on sausage products in local meat markets and grocery stores.

The first year it was "Sausage Festival" . . . later "Wurst Week" . . . and finally "Wurstfest". What he thought would be a typical small town festival was conceived by Ed A. Grist , who was a practicing Veterinarian and City Meat Inspector. He went to the Chamber of Commerce in late summer of 1961. Chamber officials liked the idea and helped get the first Sausage Festival off the ground. At the time, no one anticipated the phenomenal success this festival would achieve.

The first Wurstfest drew a crowd of 2,000 sausage-hungry visitors attracted by literally world-wide publicity. . . there were feature stories on this unique celebration in newspapers in Canada and Germany, as well as most major cities in the United States.

Visitors watched ladies of the [National] Grange [of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry] demonstrate sausage-making practiced by their forebears who brought their recipes to the Texas wilderness form Germany 116 years before. They saw modern methods used today, which have left unchanged the mouth-watering flavors of original recipes.

While local German singing clubs sang and the Amtliche Stadt Wurst Kapelle (official City Sausage Band) played, visitors viewed the exhibits of local sausage-makers who produced 152 tons of sausage [167.5496 metric tons] annually.

The first festival was scheduled for Land Park, but because of threatening weather it was moved to the National Guard Armory. The second year was a two-day affair and survived the worst storm of the year, a hail and windstorm that blasted the county. Held in Land Park, its visitors and exhibitors rode out the storm while consuming 1,500 sausage plates.

The festival went "big time" in ’63, moving downtown to the Rathskeller (a burned-out department store basement, now the New Braunfels Utilities parking lot) with an event scheduled every night of Wurst Week.

Attendance in '64 tripled, reaching 30,000 and the visitors consumed 5,000 pounds [2,267.96 kilograms] of sausage. In '66, the pressure on the Rathskeller was so great (an estimated 35,000 attended that year) that it became imperative to move to larger quarter. Over five tons [4.5359237 metric tons] of sausage disappeared from food booths that year.

Wurstfest broke in a new site in ’67 . . . half of the present Wursthalle . . . and attendance jumped to 40,000. In ’68, the entire Wursthalle, having approximately 33,000 square feet and seats for over 2,000 people, was leased in time for 56,000 visitors in the expanding ten-day run.

In ’69, balmy weather throughout the ten days of Wurstfest contributed to a record attendance of 75,000. Food served from 48 booths included
Wurst Tacos, Sauerkraut Pizzas, Corn on the Cob, Shish-ka-bobs, Wurst-ka-bobs and all kinds of sausage.

The festival had its first big time entertainer in ’68 when
Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk TV show appeared. In ’72, a segment of Floren’s performance at Wurstfest was shown on the Lawrence Welk show.

In spite of almost ten days of cold, rainy weather, 1974 attendance rose to 150,000 and in ’75 over 160,000. In ’74, the
Biergerten was added along with new security facilities and restrooms. In ’75 new gate buildings were added and in ’77 the Wursthalle was painted and the tower received a new roof.

1978 was a benchmark year with the purchase of the Dittlinger Feed Mill property, and a sub-lease on a portion of the LCRA property. This tripled the size of the Wurstfest grounds and entertainment area for the 150,000 visitors. A grounds admissions charge and strict policies, along with improved facilities, removed any doubt that the festival would continue to be a family oriented event. Wurstfest was listed among the top attractions in the world for the month of November.

Attendance in ’79 climbed to 165,000. Wurstfesters who purchased 42,000
Kartoffel Puffers, 22,000 Shish-ka-bobs, 19,000 ears of corn, 10,000 turkey legs and 42 tons [38.10175908 metric tons] of sausage.

In ’80 and ’81 the attendance leveled off to 150,000, but food and beverage sales stayed at ’79 levels. In ’81 rain caused an attendance drop of 50% on the first Saturday, but returned to normal for the rest of the fest.

Proceeds from ’79 though ’81 were used for beautification and land development in Landa Park. $120,000 was spent on landscaping, erosion control and traffic flow improvement at the entrance to Landa Park. $600,000 was spent by Wurstfest in ’80 and ’81 for erosion control and landscaping along the Comal River.

In ’82, Wurstfest acquired
Jerome Nowotny’s "World’s Largest Beer Bottle Collection" consisting of over 10,000 bottles. A Goebelfest and Hummel Figurine Look-Alike contest were held.

Shuttle bus service from local hotels and motels was introduced in ’83 and continues today.

In ’85, Wurstfest celebrated its 25th Anniversary with Myron Floren and the
University of Texas Longhorn Band opening the festival. A postal cancellation was designed to commemorate the 25th Anniversary celebration and a temporary postal station was located in the Marktplatz.

In ’86, Wurstfest opened its administrative offices on the grounds in the Kleinehalle building and an information booth was constructed at the base of the tower to serve the 120,000 visitors. A portion of the Dittlinger Mill Building housed the first arts and crafts show on the grounds.

In 1987, larger, clear-span entertainment tents were situated at each end of the Marktplatz. The size of
Das Grosse Zelt (Big Tent) was doubled, and the new arrangement was well received by the 125,000 visitors to Wurstfest. A 32 piece brass band from Bonbaden, Germany, performed to the delight of the crowds and Myron Floren celebrated his 20th anniversary as featured entertainer. Favorable weather for nine of the ten days and wide-spread media coverage contributed to increased attendance and Wurstfest was rated in the top 100 events in North America by the America Bus Association.

The ’88 Wurstfest drew 135,000 visitors from 48 states, Canada, Mexico, Germany and other European countries. They were entertained by a
40 piece brass band from Runkel, Germany. Unseasonably warm weather allowed young ones to enjoy the expanded children’s area with parents nearby.

National media attention focused on the ’89 Wurstfest as the reunification of Germany began with the opening of the Berlin Wall. Earlier that week, members of the
Texas Accordion Association gathered . . . bringing instruments as unique as the individuals themselves.

The ’90 festival introduced the
Schorsch Pfeiler Band from Munich, welcomed four time Grammy Award Winner Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra to Wurstfest for the first time and arranged for Park and Ride service from San Antonio. Organizers were encouraged by the increase in attendance and sales on opening day; however, periodic cold, wet weather slowed attendance overall.

In ’91, the coldest weather of the entire winter season settled in New Braunfels during the ten day event, but loyal patrons braved the cold and enjoyed the food, fun and fellowship that this festival is famous for!

The festival success story continued. In ’92, the Children’s Museum created a special hands-on exhibit, "Where in the World is Germany?" in the Landa Recreation Center adjacent to the festival grounds. The additional charge to enter the Wursthalle was eliminated in ’93. Weather continued to be a major factor and kept attendance figures around the 100,000 level. The weather picture for '94 was a welcome change from recent years . . . eight days of mild temperatures and sunshine brought thousands to the ground and the highest number of paid admissions was recorded since 1989. Concession receipts rose 32.5%. ’95 was another good year for the festival.

In ’96 special attention was given to the accessibility and appearance of the grounds by adding a paved walkway complete with decorative iron fencing along the water from Gate #1 to the waterfall, and a decorative façade on the south end of the Marktplatz. Ten days of ideal weather allowed the ’96 festival to surpass previous records. In ’97, Floren made his 30th consecutive annual appearance at Wurstfest. Access to the north end of the riverwalk was improved and planning for the development of a multipurpose area in the Kleinehalle adjacent to the
Biergarten continued. Fabulous fall weather and a tremendous line-up of entertainment pushed attendance upward again in ’97.

1998 was quite a year. On October 17, just thirteen short days prior to the festival opening, floodwaters devastated New Braunfels. More than twenty inches of rain caused the Comal and Guadalupe rivers to rise to levels never recorded before . . . much of the property along the Comal River owned by the Wurstfest Association was underwater, and enhancements to the Gate #1 area completed in ’96 were destroyed. Festival officials immediately surveyed the damage and declared the festival would continue as planned.

Many were amused by such optimism, but members and local businesses pitched in and prepared the grounds for opening day. Those who attended found it hard to believe that such damage had actually occurred. Myron Floren visited with his loyal fans by phone from his home in California as he recuperated from surgery,
Die Froehliche Dorfmusik returned for their second visit to Wurstfest, and a progressive young group from New York, Die Schlauberger, made their first appearance at Wurstfest. Their modern and traditional alpine music was a marvelous addition to favorite entertainers such as Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra, Alpenfest, Sauerkrauts and others. Rainy weather five out of the ten days slowed attendance, however organizers declared this festival one of the most successful ever!

Visitors contributed thousands to flood victims and Wurstfest matched every dollar contributed to flood relief during the month of November. A total of $50,000 was turned over to the Community Service Center by the Wurstfest Association to aid flood victims.

In ’99 festival patrons enjoyed he finest in Alpine and Bavarian style entertainment. Clear skies, mild temperatures, good food and a strong line-up of popular performers proved to be a winning combination for the 39th annual Wurstfest . . . the ’99 festival earned its place in history as the top income producer for the ‘90’s!

2000 . . . Opening day was reminiscent of the very first sausage festival in 1961 when storms drove the sausage and sauerkraut from Landa Park to the National Guard Armory; and it continued to rain throughout the entire ten days of the 40th annual Wurstfest! But they came, the ate, sang, and danced and had a great time anyway!

The 2001 festival opened with a concert by the Comal Community Band and the
first annual Wurstfest Polka Contest. Blessed with fine weather, outstanding entertainment and great food, the 41st annual Wurstfest came close to setting new records in attendance and sales.

Wurstfest is a non-profit corporation designed to promote local commerce, especially through tourism, and preserve the community’s heritage. It provides a vehicle for local civic organizations to raise large amounts of money for a wide variety of community projects. Wurstfest is a special event that visitors can attend, enjoy themselves, and leave gratified, knowing that their expenditures will go for worthwhile projects.

Willkommen zum WURSTFEST!
Prosit, und hab' Spasz!


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