Zike Zake Zike Zake Hoi Hoi Hoi! That’s just one of the chants you’ll hear throughout the Wurstfest park grounds at the 10-day celebration in honor of German sausage.

The first Wurstfest was held in 1961 when the mayor proclaimed the first Saturday in November to be a day to celebrate the rich German heritage of New Braunfels, TX. At the time it was only a one-day event with 2,000 visitors in attendance.

By 1968, with the attendance levels reaching close to 56,000 visitors, Wurstfest expanded into Wursthalle located in Landa Park on the shores of the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. In 1987 the American Bus Association rated Wurstfest in the top 100 events in North America.

Der Marktplatz is filled with some of the most delicious German food available including bratwurst, knackwurst, pork chop on a stick, sauerkraut, potato pancakes (with apple sauce), strudel, bread pudding, funnel cakes, pretzels and pastries. And of course, beer. Lots and lots of beer!

Most German knows you can’t enjoy a good meal without great music, and this year’s entertainers did not fail to bring on the fun. “The Chicken Dance” could be heard throughout the park while trains of dancers formed in the Big Tent and Wursthalle to the sounds of polkas, waltzes, big-band, and swing. Surprisingly, even Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” was played as a polka.

“Ein Prosit” is another song frequently heard at the festival and is a salute to one’s health or well-being. Just remember to have a drink in hand when saluting. To help prepare for the festivities, practice the words to the song:

Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemütlichkeit

Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der gemütlichkeit

Eins, zwei, Drei g’suffa!

Zicke! zacke! zicke! zacke! hoi! hoi! hoi!

Zicke! zacke! zicke! zacke! hoi! hoi! hoi!

Prosit

Some of the festival’s featured performers include national and international bands like the Cloverleaf Orchestra, Hohberg Buam of Austria, Squeezebox and the 2007 Grammy nominee Alex Meixner Band.

The festival is a very family-friendly environment and is enjoyed by kids of all ages. In its fifth year at Wurstfest, Kinderhalle is an exciting place for the kids to enjoy carnival rides, magic, and Dinosaur George, a self-taught paleontologist and animal behaviorist.

Families can also enjoy the old time melodrama “Gone with the Wurst,” playing at the Circle Arts Theatre next to the Wurstfest grounds. “The production is based on “Gone with the Wind,” with the main characters revolving around Wurstfest, polka and sausage,” said Robin Williams, artistic and technical director.

Take the time to visit Der Spass Haus to see Jerome Nowotny’s “World’s Largest Beer Bottle Collection.” Nowotny claims to have consumed all but 25 of the over 17,000 bottles of beer in his collection. Nowotny, who donated the bottles to Wurstfest in 1982, said, “That’s all part of collecting them. With every bottle, I can remember who I was with or where I was.”

And there is no better place than Der Spass Haus to enjoy a friendly game of Flip Cup, a beer drinking game where teams compete to flip the cup after taking a healthy swig of beer. There were several tables enjoying the game on Saturday. Even one of the festival Opas joined in on the competition.

There are lots of souvenirs visitors can collect while at Wurstfest: pins, empty beer pitchers and t-shirts. Two of the most beautiful collectibles are the Wurstfest steins and mugs. This year’s design commemorates the past 50 years of Wurstfest, with design elements from all 51 years of the festival, a German made collectible.

This year there are two Kids Nite Out programs, a child drop-off event, which requires pre-registration with a cost of $10 per child. Families need to pre-register by calling (830) 221-4370.

The last day of the festival is Sunday, Nov. 13, and to help close out the festival will be this year’s Polka Contest, which takes place at 3:30 p.m. in Wursthalle.

Admission to the festival is $8 per person; no charge for children ages 12 and younger. Group rates, advance discounts and special weekday promotions are available. For information about Wurstfest, call 830/625-9167 or 1-800-221-4369, or visit the Web site at www.wurstfest.com.

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