Beginning in the 1960s, Wurstfest has brought visitors from around the country to Central Texas each November to celebrate the German heritage of New Braunfels through food, live music and more, according to the Wurstfest Association.
Just four days after the conclusion of the 2019 festival, two fires broke out on the historic grounds and left the Marktplatz building structurally unsound, according to city reports.
The Martkplatz was home to vendor booths operated by a variety of local nonprofits and organizations since the early 1970s, said Suzanne Herbelin, Wurstfest executive director.
Following the destruction, the Wurstfest Association formed the Marktplatz Rebuild Committee and began working with MarmonMok Architecture to rebuild the facility ahead of the 2020 festival, which was to be the 60th annual celebration.
Ultimately, the association elected to cancel the 2020 festival due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but work on the facility continued.
The 17,000-square-foot facility ended up being about a $12 million investment, said Dan Tharp, a board member of the Wurstfest association and director of the marketing committee.
As the association and the city of New Braunfels prepare for the 2021 festival that is slated to take place Nov. 5-14, here is a look back at Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the construction and preparations for the event.
November 15, 2019 Multiple fires broke out on the historic Wurstfest grounds
On the night of Nov. 14 and the early morning of Nov. 15, two fires broke out in the Marktplatz building, causing major damage to the structure and smoke and heat damage to the Wursthalle, according to city reports.
Many nonprofit organizations had not yet retrieved their equipment from booths inside the building.
February 2020 Wurstfest Association announces renderings and names architect to lead rebuild project
Following the demolition of the former Marktplatz, members of the rebuild committee and MarmonMok Architecture presented new renderings and construction updates during a City Council meeting.
During the meeting, the lease for Wurstfest’s land was also renewed for 25 years. The lease is expected to provide a net revenue of $8,500 to the city each year.
March 2020 Wurstfest nonprofits presented with check to assist with losses
In a partnership with the city of New Braunfels and the Bowen Family Foundation, the New Braunfels Downtown Association presented a check for $30,000 to 16 Wurstfest vendors whose booths and equipment were destroyed last November in two fires that burnt the Marktplatz to the ground and damaged the Wursthalle.
Funds for the nonprofits were raised in December at a Wassailfest benefit concert headlined by Wade Bowen and will be split evenly among the 16 groups that applied.
March 2020 More renderings of the future Marktplatz building are released
Byrne Construction Services was selected to oversee the rebuild of the property. In order to complete the Marktplatz before the 60th anniversary, scheduled for Nov. 6-15, the Wurstfest Association and Byrne agreed to a design-build proposal with a much shorter timeline than traditional construction projects.
The Marktplatz designs showed a detached set of four buildings linked by a single roof and covered breezeways next to Wursthalle.
July 2020 Wurstfest canceled due to coronavirus-related concerns
On July 23, the Wurstfest Association of New Braunfels announced the cancellation of the 2020 Wurstfest celebration, which was scheduled for Nov. 6-15.
According to a press release, the Wurstfest Board of Directors decided to cancel the festival after reviewing the latest local COVID-19 information.
The association also announced that the 2021 festival, which will mark the 60th Wurstfest, will take place Nov. 5-14 and will utilize the new Marktplatz building, set to be completed this fall.
September 2020 Marktplatz rebuild nearly complete in New Braunfels
The 17,000-square-foot facility was scheduled for completion at the end of October 2020 in time for the 60th anniversary of Wurstfest, which was to be held Nov. 6-15. On July 23, the Wurstfest board of directors announced the cancellation of the 2020 festival, citing anticipated challenges with enforcing COVID-19 guidelines at the event.
Wurstfest Executive Director Suzanne Herbelin said the pandemic has not caused any delays in construction, but the board of directors plans to delay some site work to allow New Braunfels Utilities to complete a sewer project slated for November.
September 2021 Wurstfest unveils new Marktplatz rebuild ahead of festival
On Sept. 25, the Wurstfest Association unveiled the newly rebuilt Marktplatz building on the festival grounds in New Braunfels ahead of the 60th annual Wurstfest, one of the largest Oktoberfest-style celebrations in North America, according to the association.
The event welcomed social media influencers from around Texas and the press to take a first look at the new hall as well as watch a demonstration on making sausage.
Wursthalle renovations are also nearly complete. A new roof was installed, and a previously closed off ventilation system around the top of the walls was reopened. Among other upgrades, there are new glass doors with awnings for each entrance way to the main hall.
The 2021 festival will be held from Nov. 5-14 at 120 Landa St., New Braunfels. For more information and daily festival schedules, visit the Wurstfest website.
The association has yet to announce any coronavirus-related restrictions or regulations for the celebration.