A collection of day trips: Wurstfest
This year we celebrated the 56th anniversary of Wurstfest — the huge outdoor sausage and beer festival in New Braunfels, TX. I haven’t been to Wurstfest since I was in college at Texas State, and since we were going to a wedding in the hill country anyway we decided to head up a day early so we could attend.
First things first, I think Wurstfest could be a day trip if you aren’t a huge drinker. But I never condone drinking and driving, so turn this into an overnight stay if you plan to enjoy the pitchers of beer. The hotel hustle in New Braunfels during the two-week period of Wurstfest is unparalleled anywhere on earth. I recommend staying at the Microtel on I35 – prices were cheaper than anywhere else in town, all of their rooms are non-smoking, and they have the greatest policy on earth – after the checkout time of noon, you can stay in the room for $10/hr. This was clutch the next morning after drinking beer all night. Noon would have been an impossible task – we barely made it to the 4:30 pm wedding.
Uber has been a major development in the time that has passed between my last trip to Wurstfest a decade ago and now. Parking is a struggle and many churches and other businesses offer up parking in their lots for a price. I spoke to a member of the Knights of Columbus for a local church, and he told me they don’t even have to do fundraisers anymore because the money they make from parking during the two weeks of the festival pays for everything they would do fundraising for. That’s incredible. Be prepared for a pretty long walk either way — the traffic leading up to the festival entrance is so slow you’re likely to jump out of your Uber, and the waiting area for cars is a good walk away when you leave.
Once you actually get there, you can purchase entrance and drink tickets either online or at the door. At the door and once inside the festival everything is cash only. The only exception to the cash only rule is the souvenir stands where they do take credit cards. I found this hilarious — it’s too hard to take credit cards until they really want your money, then it’s simple.
So you’re inside Wurstfest. Now what? We attended the second weekend of the festival and it was packed to the gills. Walking is nearly impossible once you get inside. The festival has outgrown the grounds so much that every single inch of space is taken, and the fair grounds are just a writhing mass of people all trying to get to different places. There are tents set up around the festival with different musicians and performers, and the big tent near the main entrance of the festival for the main attractions. This tent is massive, and it was by God’s own grace that we actually were able to find our friends. Cell phone service is almost non-existent here due to the huge crowds. The big tent in the middle is where you’ll find all the beer and meats your heart desires. My advice is to find a stand that sells the beer you want, get your sausages, and post up shop at an entertainment tent nearby and just sit there. If you can’t find a place to sit, get ok with standing the whole time, it’s not that bad!
A pitcher of German beer cost $29 each. The food was more reasonably priced and some places were even giving away little pins and stuff when you bought food. For $30 we were able to get fried bacon, German chocolate cake, three different types of bratwurst, more sausage, and sausage on a stick with a tortilla. Six pitchers of beer later, it was time to go home. Despite claims to the contrary, I am a generally happy person. It takes a lot to get me upset, especially in crowds where I know things will never go very well. But not everyone is that way. We saw people throwing up everywhere, getting in fights over space on picnic benches, kids running to and fro — their parents oblivious to their whereabouts, and people like us just trying to relax, drink beer, listen to polka, and eat. It’s not all bad crowds though, standing in line for beer, I met a man whose dad has been a “red vest” since the 1970’s, and he himself just earned his red vest this year. The guys in the red and green vests help put the festival together and the green vest guys are like pledges. Hearing about the early days of the festival taking place in a church basement on a single day to the monstrosity we attended was interesting, and really made the beer line move faster. Wurstfest is over until next year but make sure you check it out in 2018!