Wassailfest 2014

Kaitlyn Johnson, 17, right, and Riley Fellers, 16, make a stop at New Braunfels Central Fire Station while attending Wassailfest on Dec. 4, 2014.

Wassailfest is upon us and last year’s Wassail Meister’s Grand Prize champions have some changes in store for event attendees.

Heath Anders of Anders Pierce Realty said there was no top-secret way the company won the award last year — though he wouldn’t divulge the wassail recipe, only that it includes “probably” 10 ingredients.

“We just made some really good wassail, I guess,” Anders said Wednesday. “I just bought all of the ingredients over the last two days. It’s probably 10 different ingredients. It’s pretty standard, but it’s just good stuff.”

He said his team will try to defend their title at tonight’s event and they’re going after the People’s Choice votes as well.

“We didn’t really understand the People’s Choice last year, didn’t understand there was a People’s Choice and a judge’s choice,”

Anders said. “We’ll try a little harder (this year) to get the people to vote for us on that. It’s really about having fun, seeing people and having a good evening.”

The 2015 Wassailfest takes place Thursday in historic downtown New Braunfels beginning at 6 p.m. with the official toast to kick off the annual event. Wassailfest is an evening of music, fun, food, shopping, twinkling holiday lights and, of course, lots of free wassail to sample.

Each year, downtown merchants offer wassail samples, host entertainers, and compete for the best wassail around. Several area non-profits also serve concessions in the Main Plaza area as a fundraiser.

This is the event’s 23rd year, said Amy McWhorter, New Braunfels downtown development coordinator. She said there will be 33 wassail stops downtown.

Wassailfest has been growing over the years and with Mother Nature’s expected cooperation, it could be even larger this year than last, McWhorter said.

“I think that last year we estimated there were about 10,000 people in attendance,” she said. “It seems like it grows every year and the weather looks like it’s going to be great Wassail weather. It could be more than that.”

Local dignitaries will rate the various wassail concoctions this year. They include Mayor Barron Casteel, Comal County Judge Sherman Krause and Joe Castilleja, Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board, as Wassail Meister judges.

McWhorter said other locals will judge the various other rounds of wassail competition.

Wassailfest has a storied history steeped in tradition, she said.

“It originally started as a way for the downtown merchants to welcome the community downtown to thank them for shopping throughout the year and to show off the beauty of Downtown during the holidays,” McWhorter said. The tradition continues.

Anders said he and members of his team, including partner Matt Pierce, have been attending Wassailfest for years. Joining in the wassail-making festivities just allows them to continue enjoying the celebration but also to spend time outside of work having fun as a unit, Anders said.

He said the event also offers business-building opportunities but that’s not really what the night is about. While having loads of fun, Anders said he hopes his team doesn’t run into any problems, like they did last year.

“Last year we only bought I think 600 cups and ran out of cups. We had to go around borrowing from friends and other businesses,” he said. “This year we bought 1500 cups. We’re hoping we don’t have to go around borrowing. That’s a lot of wassail.”

The event is scheduled from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

McWhorter said wassail winners will be announced 2 p.m. Friday at the bandstand at Main Plaza. Winners will receive proclamations and plaques Dec. 14 at the city council meeting.

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