Wurstfest at Canyon

Students do the chicken dance as Wurstfest members visit Canyon High School on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald-Zeitung

For grade school students in class during New Braunfels annual 10-day salute to sausage, it can be tough to make it out to Wurstfest — which is why Wurstfest comes to them.

For the past three years, Canyon High School has had an annual Wurstfest lunch, a tradition that is starting to spread to other New Braunfels campuses. 

Complete with a pretzel covered in cheese, potato salad served warm and sweet sautéed cinnamon apples, students are able to get a German-inspired lunch from one of six different food service lines in Canyon’s large red and white cafeteria.

While the current year’s Wurstfest president and Grosse Opa have had the tradition of visiting schools to talk about Wurstfest for a while, this new tradition of a full German-themed lunch started when Comal Independent School District’s head chef Mario Perez proposed the idea of a Wurstfest lunch.

“I spent four years in Germany (while I was in the service) and wanted to bring real dishes from there to the students,” Perez said. “This is Wurstfest territory.”

During each lunch, the president and Grosse Opa, along with their omas, lead students in a rendition of the chicken dance, a Wurstfest favorite.

“This year we were able to bring along Mollie B. and her husband, Ted Lange,” said 2019 President Jim Hill. “This is their 10th year coming to Wurstfest so we were excited to bring them along for this as well.”

Perez said his favorite part of the lunch is the chicken dance, where he gets to “make a fool” of himself and see the students having a ton of fun.

“I rotate through the schools, and have different themed events — like February is rodeo, so I’ll have a cowboy breakfast, or around April is Fiesta so we have a Viva Fiesta lunch.”

Canyon High School serves as the “test kitchen” for such events, Perez said. 

“It’s fun to watch the students’ faces as they come into the cafeteria with oompa music playing,” Perez said.

Dan Krueger, 2019 Grosse Opa, said his favorite part about visiting the schools is teaching kids about what Wurstfest is.

“We visit six to seven schools each year,” Krueger said. “It’s just a blast.”

A lot of the students’ parents are volunteers at Wurstfest or are even part of the association, Hill said.

“A lot of their parents help serve at Wurstfest for nonprofits or other organizations,” Hill said. “We take pride in how much Wurstfest is a community event.”

Hill said he loves to see the passion “Chef Mario” has for food and for kids.

“It’s always so much fun, the kids see someone coming up to them in a red vest and they’re like, ‘Who’s this guy?’” Hill said after talking several students into coming up for the chicken dance.

One of the best parts of visiting the schools is seeing kids come out of their shell as they ask questions or dance, said Mollie “Mollie B.” Busta. 

“The love we have for Wurstfest and for performing in this community every year all comes from the heart,” Busta said.

Wurstfest grounds open at 5 p.m. today and close at 10 p.m. Wurstfest will go through Sunday, Nov. 10 and takes place at 178 Landa Park Drive.

For more information regarding Wurstfest and ticket sales, visit wurstfest.com.

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