Wurstfest cancellation big blow to nonprofit groups

No festival means no money for 23 nonprofit groups that sell food and drinks to the 200K+ attendees

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – When New Braunfels Little League President Paul Naizer heard Wurstfest would be canceled for 2020 over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, he understood.

“It’s hard to argue against it,” Naizer said.

That doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing for his group or the 22 other nonprofit organizations that sell food and drinks to the festival in New Braunfels each fall. With more than 200,000 attendees that come through over 10 days, the groups can raise much - even all - of the money they need to operate for the year.

But not this year.

The Wurstfest Association of New Braunfels announced Thursday it was canceling the event, which has put the nonprofits in a budget bind they aren’t sure how to get out of.

“I’d love to say, ‘Yes, we can make up for it and we can go sell snow cones down at the park,‘” said New Braunfels Lions Club member Brandon Mund. “But not knowing what’s going on with this pandemic, it’s really hard to see how we’re going to make money. But I guarantee you we’re going to find a way.”

Wurstfest has traditionally been the Lions Club’s only fundraiser, grossing almost $100,000 in 2019, Mund said. With both that and a fair they hoped to add to their calendar canceled because of COVID-19, next year’s student scholarships and grants for other nonprofits are looking dicey.

But Mund said they are not giving up.

“We’re going to pull together. We’re going to find a way to make this happen. It might not be the exact same amount, but we’re always going back to our community,” he said.

Brit King, president of the Downtown Rotary Club of New Braunfels, said Wurstfest isn’t the biggest of its four fundraisers. He estimated Wurstfest nets the organization about $35,000 to $40,000. Losing the event will limit how much money it has to spread around to groups in the community at a time those other organizations are already hurting because of the pandemic.

“So we’re going to have to think of, you know, sort of outside the box and find other ways to help all these nonprofits that do such great work in the community,” King said.

It’s not the club’s only loss. Along with Wurstfest, the Downtown Rotary Club’s Wild Game Dinner “will be canceled for sure,” King said, and between the two events, he doesn’t see how they will make up the lost revenue.

“What money we have, we have to be really careful about how we give it and who we give to,” King said. “But we’ll, one thing about this community, it’s extremely generous, and there’s - I believe we’ll be fine. And we’ll just have to get past this whole mess we’re living in, and we’ll get right back to it next year,” King said.

Naizer also shared King’s faith in the community’s generosity.

The Little League, which “easily” makes half its budget for the year, got a committee together Thursday night to discuss alternate fundraising options, he said. The league tries to keep its rates low, he said, but it has a “pretty large budget,” and if it can’t make up the money it needs to match its expenses, that could increase the cost to families.

So, even if they can’t make every dollar back, Naizer believes the community will step up to help.

“And every little bit matters. If we have to raise the fees, and we can only raise them $5 or $10 instead of $40 or $50 or $75, you know, that’s a huge deal,” he said.

The Wurstfest Association has said that fundraising plans to support the nonprofit organizations that normally work Wurstfest would be announced in the coming weeks.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.