Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Got Beer?!?

The beginning of November signifies not only the end of daylight savings time, but the beginning of the holiday "-fests" that spring up around town. This week, thousands of men dust of their Lederhosen, put on their thick hiking socks, and venture down to the local Wurstfest, a 10-day festival that celebrates sausage, or "wurst" in German.

The festival includes something for all.

For the lovers of dance, there are three main areas where one can polka dance 'til they puke: the Wursthalle, the Grosse zelt (big tent), und the Kleine zelt (diminutive tent.) The most recognizable song (and by far the easiest to "dance" to) is the the "Chicken Dance," which can be heard playing in at least one tent at any given time. All the other songs are Polka Dances that basically all sound the same: a blaring trumpet, and accordion, and a giant tuba. In fact, the songs sound just like Tejano music, except with much sillier hats. But what if you don't know how to polka? Or you say you're too chicken even to dance the jig named after you? Not a problem, because there's plenty of . . . . beer! Hurray liquid courage!

And LOTS of beer there is. Under the guise of a "sausage festival," the true celebrant of Wurstfest is overpriced ale, currently going for $4/12 oz cup, or $6/12 oz. for an import beer. Macho, proud, broke men stumble through the grounds carrying towering stacks of empty cups, signifying how many 12 ounce "shots" they have already consumed and how much money they've siphoned through their kidneys.
Some individuals herald their total lack of self control by parading around with a pitcher in their hands, drinking directly from it, as they walk back and forth between the beer booth and the bathroom. These big drinkers try desperately to conceal the true level of their drunkenness beneath their absurd "rubber chicken" hat. Good think silly hats aren't against the law, or many people would get arrested for public ridiculation.

If food is more your style, then there's plenty to be consumed at Wurstfest. Aside from the obvious sausage (including many different varieties), you can get pretty much anything you want as long as you are willing to pay too much for it and eat it off of a stick. The most popular food item is the Kartuffel-Puffers, or potato pancakes. So many of these things are produced that they mix the batter in washing machines (but at least you know they are using clean batter.) These fried treats are like giant hash browns served with, what else?!? . . . a small side of apple sauce of course!. Other delicacies include pork chops on-a-stick, turkey legs off-a-stick-but-on-a-bone, and plenty of sauerkraut. But after a few beers, it all begins to taste the same--greasy and vinegary. The only solution to the heartburn is do douse the fire with more beer.

If you like crafts, there is a craft booth where you can buy something that was crocheted by someone. Although no one would ever waste valuable beer money on an commemorative afghan, the booth is an interesting booth to meander by while you are gorging yourself on sausage and drowning yourself with beer. I don't know how many times I've said with a distended stomach, "OOOOOOOh, Niiice Doiley!. Does it come on a sticK?"

Got kids? Bring them along--it's never to late to set a good example for them as to why they should never drink! Besides, who else is going to eat the apple sauce that comes with your potato pancake? Seriously, though, they DO have many rides for kids, including a giant ferris wheel and the carousel. Most kids are ready for this kind of entertainment, as it has been 4 incredibly long weeks since the county fair left town. Kids are also another good set of hands when you have too many beers to carry, and they can save your place at the limited tables when you get up to polka dance to that waltz.

If you like rubbing elbows, then Wursfest is definitely the place for you. Virtually anyone who's anyone makes a showing. People come from miles and miles for the big event. It often gets so crowded that rubbing elbows becomes more than just an expression as people pack in like sardines throughout the grounds, doubly so in the restrooms. This is helpful in keeping all the drunk people in an upright position. The event is run by the "Opas," who are the official elected elite of New Braunfels. These little "Opas" run around in their green and red vests greeting the patrons, thanking them for their money, before they retire to their private drinking quarters.

Yep, Wurstfest is fun for the whole family. It's a great excuse to get dressed up in clothing you wouldn't even wear at Halloween, overindulge in unhealthy food, drink more beer than you'll ever remember, dance to the sound of blaring trumpets, and blow a whole week's paycheck.

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