From Texas Public Radio:
German-Texans celebrate their heritage with several Hill Country celebrations each fall.
The largest of those celebrations is Wurstfest in New Braunfels, which kicks off on Nov. 4 and runs through Nov. 13.
Two hundred and fifty thousand visitors attended Wurstfest last year to sample beer, sausage, German music and more. Fredericksburg attracted thousands in early October with its Oktoberfest.
Any local Oktoberfest is thought to have grown out of the celebration held in Munich, Germany, in October 1810, to mark the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese.
Brad Farbstein, the president of Real Ale in Blanco, said there’s also a big reason such celebrations are held in the fall — no one really wants to drink a hot beer. He said before refrigeration, Germans stored their beer in caves.
“They would allow the beer to age in caves, and the caves were warm during the summer, and they started to cool off in September. And so, the idea was that they would pull all of the remaining beer out, and they would drink it all for a big party. And then it would make room for them to start being able to brew from October all the way to March,” he said.
Real Ale hosted its own Oktoberfest celebration at its location on the northern end of Blanco, just off 281. It included a special Oktoberfest brew, sausages and pretzels, German music, and a stein-hoisting contest, under the shade of live oak trees.
Stephen Schmidt of Blanco won the men’s competition, holding a liter of beer in a large stein straight out with his arm for five minutes, 45 seconds.
He said his only training came from his natural love of hoisting mugs. “Only in that I drink beer often,” he said with a grin.
Competitors were eliminated if elbows sagged or if arms shook and beer spilled from a mug. All athletes hit a wall. Schmidt said his limit came around four minutes in.
“It’s not that tough for the first two minutes. You think, ‘oh this is not a big deal.’ Then you look at the people still around you that are still in it. And you’re like, ‘you’re much skinnier than me — why am I having trouble starting now?’ At four minutes, it starts hurting real bad. Real bad,” he said.