What has 120 taps and serves 13 brands of beer, plus other beverages? Wurstfest’s coolest updated bar, the Wunderbar.
The bar — also known as Bar #5 — will debut Friday evening, along with other slight updates to the grounds, as the 59th Wurstfest kicks off.
Just past the Biergarten area and the Das Grosse Zelt (the big tent) toward the food trucks, the Wunderbar’s smooth white stone blends in seamlessly with Wurstfest’s look.
Walking around to the front of the long bar, festivalgoers are greeted by the soft glow of hanging lights, a steely smooth counter and a chandelier of repurposed windows, all combining in an aesthetic that is both industrial and vintage. Counters down the center of the bar allow workers to continuously fill cups from the taps and place them within easy reach of the bartenders to minimize customers’ wait time.
“We had a group design the new area, and we had a bar right there that was in the way, so we knocked the bar down and made this new bar,” said Jim Hill, 2019 Wurstfest president. “We kept all the old brick we knocked down, cleaned it off and put it back on so we could keep the same look.”
To the side of the building are about 100 picnic tables, added last year, for Wurstfest attendees to enjoy, said Dan Tharp, chairman of marketing for Wurstfest.
The purchase of a 4.5-acre piece of property within the grounds in 2016 allowed for the development of additional space — including a new tent and sitting area unveiled last year — and the cool new beverage serving area this year.
Nearby is an On the Grind coffee stand, a pretzel stand, a couple of food trucks and more, said Suzanne Herbelin, Wurstfest executive director.
“The six guys that were the committee — Darren Hill chaired it, and then some of the staff, Chris and Patrick and Suzanne — the bar committee are the ones who gave ideas, and then Kareem Morgan put those together,” Hill said.
The Wunderbar took a little less than a year to build, Herbelin said, explaining construction began in February.
Wurstfest also updated its fencing this year in the same area, changing the fence from simple silver chain-link to tall brown posts.
“We had that area and it wasn’t being used,” Hill said. “That’s a high traffic area.”
The land’s been the center of the grounds for years, but some of it couldn’t be used because it was a lease, Herbelin said.
“We were able to purchase that in 2016, so once we purchased it, we set about to implement a very aggressive development program to where we were able to open up the hydro plant,” Herbelin said. “And the other area — behind the new bar area.”
With more than170,000 attendees coming to Wurstfest last year, the growth of the festival and growth of the grounds went hand-in-hand, Herbelin said.
“We needed a bigger service area, we needed to move the one we had to give more space around the (big) tent, and that was just a natural spot for it,” Herbelin said.
Another 30 to 40 tables could also be added directly to the left of the new bar, Herbelin said.
“This is the year before our 60th anniversary,” Tharp said. “2020 is our 60th.”
While the opening of the Wunderbar completes the updated area, the grounds are always being beautified and added to, Hill said.
“The grounds get better every year — this year is no exception with the addition of the Wunderbar and additional seating,” Tharp said.
The Wunderbar adds to the attendee’s experience, said Dan Krueger, 2019 Grosse Opa.
“It’s easier to move around the big tent and to find seating,” Krueger said.
Wurstfest grounds open at 4 p.m. today, with opening ceremonies taking place in Wursthalle at 5:30 p.m. Wurstfest is a 10-day festival at 178 Landa Park Drive.
For more information regarding Wurstfest and ticket sales, visit wurstfest.com.