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New Braunsfels, Texas: Merry making at the Wurstfest!By: © Maxine Sommers 2014
Recently, while driving into New Braunsfels, Texas, I was impressed by the small-town charm of the locale. It is evident that the city-fathers have managed to maintain the original old-world, Germanic ambiance. Even before you enter the area, the billboards along IH 35 provide amusing reading-my all-time favorite: "TACOS-GET STUFFED!"
In 1845, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, established a German colony on the Comal River and named it New Braunfels after Braunfels, Germany, site of his castle on the Lahn river. At that time the surrounding area was sparsely populated.
The first German settlers arrived by ox carts and wagons on Good Friday, March 21, 1845. They crossed the Guadalupe River, and were placed on an encampment on a bluff overlooking the Comal River. From this fragile beginning the settlement expanded by approximately 6,000 people as a flood of Germans immigrated to the area.
The colonizing of New Braunsfels had a great impact on the area as well as opening West Texas to a civilized economy. Among the German settlers there were many craftsmen and artisans, all of whom generated commerce and industry for the Central Texas region.
Much of that old-world charisma is evident in New Braunsfels today. The down-town area is comprised of upbeat retail stores housed in historic buildings. The oldest hardware store and the oldest bakery in Texas claim this area as their home.
Ten blocks of the main streets, Seguin Avenue and San Antonio Street, meet at the stately plaza with its historic fountain, music pavilion and elegant landscaped grounds. This plaza is the center of the city, where parades pass, concerts are held and dignitaries are honored.
As I walked around the city several establishments caught my eye-Naegelin's Bakery (129 S. Seguin): offers oven-fresh German, French and Danish breads and pastries daily. Uuum uuum good-nibble while you tour the city! New Braunfels has a fine selection of antique shops. If you are interested in period furnishings and collectibles stop at Headrick Country Home Antiques Store (697 S. Seguin): The store has a good collection of Colonial Texas furniture and stoneware, vintage quilts (1850's-1930's), copper, brass, jewelry and glass. Or-you can stroll over to 230 W. San Antonio Street and browse through the Country Faire Store to view their collection of antiques, gifts, country accessories and hand crafts.
For an adventure in fine German cuisine drive on over to one block East of IH 35 on Hwy 46 (Exit 189) to Oma's Haus (Grandmother's House.) This folksy cafe has been serving authentic German foods since 1977. The menu intrigued me with various specialty items, a few of the more fascinating: Niersteiner Schnitzel and grilled sausage sampler of bratwurst or smoked knockwurst grilled with onions. You won't go home hungry. An item that really caught my eye, was listed simply as "OINK"-which I discovered was "bold and spicy grilled pork chops." I guess "Oink" pretty well covers that.
Lest you think the city is limited to German cuisine only, I offer a tip to those of you who have ancestors from the land of Erin: Calahan's Pub & Deli (194 W San Antonio) bills itself as "a little touch of Ireland" and proves it by serving over 100 different kinds of beer. A visit to this fine establishment is sure to bring a smile to your face...even if you're not Irish.
Are you planning to stay over night for the Wurstfest? For Bed and Breakfast accommodations: The Prince Solms Inn (295 E San Antonio) was built in 1898 and continues to delight visitors with its grace and charm. As an added bonus the Inn offers the hospitality of the Wine Cellar, a friendly oasis where you can sip your favorite domestic or imported wine or beer and munch on nifty snacks...try the seafood campechana...a favorite local taste treat. Call: (830) 625-9169. For a hotel location on IH 35: the Roadway Inn (1209 IH-35 East) has 130 rooms. The Inn features a free continental breakfast, HBO, a heated spa and in-room Jacuzzi are available. As an added inducement: the inn is close to the factory outlet stores. Call: (830) 629-6888.
The New Braunfels Wurstfest is consistently rated as one of the top events in North America. Can't get much better than that! The Wurstfest grounds lie just inside of Landa Park along the banks of the Comal River.
This unique celebration-rich in German Culture and full of Texas fun-is held annually, the festival always begins on the Friday before the first Monday in November. This year the dates are: November 2 through 11, 2001.
Be prepared to savor the exciting ambiance of Germany as you chat with friendly Texans, all dressed in lederhosen and dirndls as a tribute to the community's rich German heritage.
Families come from near and far to sample the spicy sausage, scrumptious strudel, tasty potato pancakes and other German/Texas examples of delectable German cuisine, all served by smiling folks inviting you to share in the fun.
Others come to polka and waltz to good ol' fashioned oompah music performed by more than sixty entertainment groups. Watching couples sail across the dance floor with pure pleasure shinning from their faces is a memorable sight.
- One of the special Wurstfest attractions is: The New Braunsfels Museum of Art and Music. The Museum schedules exhibits that showcase local craftsmen, musicians and music festivals. Call: 1-800456-4866.
- Some of the Wurstfest Special Events: Old Time Melodrama production by Circle Arts Theatre. This hour-long old-time melodrama includes a sing-a-long and a popcorn-throw at the villain! Call: 1-830-625-4824.
- Wurstfest Walkfest: begins at Schlitterbahn and is an American Volkssport Association Sanctioned Walk. Call: 1-830-625-6330.
- Wurstfest Craft Show & Sale: is located in the New Branfels Utilities parking lot. Call: 1-830-606-4547.
- Wurstfest Regatta: hosts more than 200 sailboats on Canyon Lake. Call 1-201-590-7100.
If you are interested in an exhilarating experience and a special view of German culture, the Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas, is ready and waiting to welcome you. Mark your calendar for early November and call the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce for further information: 1-800-572-2626.