It’s officially the “wurst” time of the year.
The 59th annual salute to sausage officially opened late Friday evening with the tapping of the keg and the biting of the sausage inside Wursthalle.
The Wurstfest opening ceremony kicked off at 5:30 p.m. with a welcome from Opa and emcee Jason Hurta, who introduced Opa Emeritus Rusty Brockman for the invocation.
After praying for “gemütlichkeit” and good weather, Brockman thanked the volunteers who made Wurstfest possible.
“We want to thank our forefathers for this vibrant and alive city,” Brockman said. “And we’re thankful to the staff who work year round to make this fun for all.”
Hurta then introduced to the stage a Scout who led the packed Wursthalle in the pledge of allegiance before passing the mic to Mollie B., who performed the national anthem.
“This is Mollie B.’s 10th year with us,” Hurta said.
Next, Hurta introduced 2019 Wurstfest Festival Chairman Randy Rusty who thanked several fellow opas and committee members.
Rusty in turn introduced 2019 Wurstfest President Jim Hill who came to the microphone holding his baby granddaughter, Harper Emerson Hill.
“This is a community event and I’m glad you’re all here,” Jim Hill said. “This is a tradition we get to introduce our granddaughter to this year,” Hill said choking up slightly. So tonight’s a good night to make friends and a tradition - and if not tonight you have nine more nights to do so.”
Attendees clapped and awed when Harper Emerson nibbled a sausage in Hill’s hand.
“I had the tradition of choosing this year’s Grosse Opa, Dan Krueger, who I know is going to make sure you all have a great time,” Hill said.
After being pinned by Hill with his official president’s own, Krueger took to the front of the stage where he thanked his family, the crowd and pumped the attendees up.
“What were going to do here is have a lot of fun,” Krueger said. “You’ll see me walking around with this big red and black feather on my hat ... come find my wife and I and let us know if you’re having a good time.”
Rusty then jumped back in front of the audience quickly to thank his wife as well before introducing Grammy-nominated musician and producer Alex Meixner on the accordion for his 21st year at Wurstfest.
Meixner led the crowd in a song before Hurta introduced Shiner Brewmaster Jimmy Mauric to tap the official keg.
Alongside Hill, Krueger and Rusty, Mauric tapped the keg of Oktoberfest beer to excited shouts from the crowd, while attendees rushed forward to try to get a black and red cup filled from the volunteers.
The linked Smokehouse sausages were then passed out to the presenters on stage. Hurta did the official countdown before everyone on stage bit his or her sausage link, officially opening Wurstfest 2019.
“Anyone have a toothpick?” a festival goer yelled out from the crowd after eating his link.
After a rousing chorus of Ein Prozit, the crowd dispersed.
“The opening ceremonies were awesome, the crowd was spectacular,” Hill said. “Having my granddaughter up there with me - it doesn’t get better than that.”
Krueger said the opening went tremendously well and he was glad to see a lively crowd.
“I’m glad we’re we’re able to get everyone fired up,” Krueger said.
The festival continues through Sunday, Nov. 10.
For more information about Wurstfest or to buy tickets visit www.wurstfest.com.