For the men under the Sacco patriarch, Wurstfest has always been a part of life.
Mitch Sacco, an opa emeritus and one of the few opas who remembers the founding of Wurstfest and joined soon after, is the father-in-law of two opas and grandfather of a fourth.
“Things then were so much different than now,” Mitch Sacco recalls. “When it came time for Wurstfest, the members got together way before and washed tables, cleaned up, painted, got everything ready our selves.”
Mitch served as the president of Wurstfest in 1971 at the young age of 38.
“Mitch was president the year I was born,” said Barron Casteel, mayor of New Braunfels, son-in-law of Mitch Sacco and an opa. “It’s a family event.”
Jean Sacco, Mitch’s wife and the matriarch of the family, said her husband joined the association a year or two after Wurstfest was first founded.
“He was president in 1971,” Jean Sacco said. “It’s pretty exciting to have your son-in-laws and grandsons in it. We’re pretty proud of that.”
The women of the family are also highly involved in Wurstfest, working as volunteers in different organizations.
“Everybody spends time working at something,” Jean Sacco said. “My daughter Nancy, she runs the Sophienburg gift shop and they have two booths at Wurstfest.”
Nancy Classen said she enjoys running the booth and finds Wurstfest a part of life for their family.
“My dad (Mitch) has been in it since the late ‘60s,” Nancy said. “He still comes down to Wurstfest every year.”
Nancy’s husband Wayne Classen said it was Mitch who actually instigated him becoming an opa.
I was a member of the chamber, president of the Jaycees, working my tail off after college and he said, ‘You need to get into Wurstfest,’ so I applied and got in,” Wayne Classen said. “Now I’m the longest tenured regular opa.”
When Wayne’s son, Darren, decided to also become an opa, Wayne said he was very proud of his son.
“I thought it was awesome, another generation of the family joining — and he’s a real hard worker,” Wayne Classen said. “It’s great when the person who is applying is going to work hard and not just be a wallflower and I knew Darren would get involved.”
Both Wayne and his son Darren Classen did the remodel of Carl’s stein haus.
This year Darren Classen is serving as the vice chair of the bar committee, and was critical in the redesign and reopening of the Wunderbar.
“I’m pretty much there every night,” Darren Classen said. “I think it’s awesome it’s such a family tradition. It’s been something that’s been part of my life my entire life.”
Since he was 1 year old, Darren said he’s been coming to Wurstfest.
“It was always a lot of fun,” Darren Classen said. “When I’d go, I felt like I knew everyone already and as I got older, it was just a continuation of that, getting to see everybody.”
By Sunday the whole family will be tired, but it’s not just work for them — it’s a family affair, Jean Sacco said.
“We have a great time seeing each other,” Jean Sacco said. “There are people we maybe haven’t seen all year, especially as this town grows, and we get to come together and have fun for 10 days.”
Having seen the festival grow into what it is today, Jean Sacco said she feels blessed her whole family is a part of Wurstfest.
“It’s been a fun experience,” Jean said. “Who knew when it started out that it would be what it is today in 2019.”
Mitch Sacco said he’s been proud to see his family come into the association and be a great asset to Wurstfest.
“I’m really happy with it, I really am.”