First Look: See inside Wurstfest’s new Marktplatz after the devastating fire in 2019

‘I get burnt down, but I get up again,’ reads a brick in the new $13-million structure

Wurstfest is celebrating its 60th year. But this time the celebration of sausage is looking a little different.

The 10-day annual festival — taking place this year from Nov. 5 to 14 — is a New Braunfels tradition that started in 1961.

Wurstfest celebrates the city’s German heritage. It’s one of the Hill Country town’s biggest events that attracts thousands of visitors from across the state and beyond every year.

But in 2019, just days after the 59th festival ended, a devastating fire destroyed the iconic Marktplatz building.

Fire at Wurstfest grounds in New Braunfels

The building, which was erected in the late 1960s, was declared a total loss by local fire officials. The adjacent Wursthalle building sustained smoke and heat damage but was still considered structurally sound following the fire.

“The morning that we found out that the building had burned down, by that afternoon we had already started forming a committee - a lot of them are in construction, some of them are in building and design - those people are the ones that started the ball rolling,” 2021 Wurstfest President Randy Rust told KSAT during a recent tour.

He described the old Marktplatz building as a sort of lean-to that butted up against the Wursthalle.

The original Marktplatz had grown over the years from its original look. As more sausage and beer vendors and various nonprofits started joining the festival, they would add on their own booths to the building - essentially making it a hodge-podge of different building materials.

For the new Marktplatz building, Rust said the committee went with something known as a design-build. He described it as being a faster way to get the project done since festival organizers planned to have the new building done in time for Wurstfest 2020.

However, last year’s festival was canceled, for the first time in its history, due to the coronavirus.

Wurstfest officials actually shared renderings of what the new Marktplatz building would look like on Facebook in April 2020 but just days ahead of the kickoff of Wurstfest 2021, they gave KSAT a sneak peek at the real thing.

Grosse Opa Wayne Classen (think of him as the chairman of fun) explained how the new Marktplatz has risen from the ashes and transformed into a beautiful, new $13 million structure that’s ready to greet guests.

“We had a lot of different committees that would work with the individual booths and individual vendors to make it all come together,” said Classen.

He told KSAT that Wurstehalle was mostly spared from damage due to it being made of thick concrete walls and said that the outside of the building was updated to match the new look of the Marktplatz.

Rust said there was a lot of emphasis put on tradition when it came to the design of the new Marktplatz building and said the new structure ended up with some accidental “W”s in the metalwork. (See if you can spot them in the video above.)

Part of the funding for the new Marktplatz building came from the sale of bricks. Custom bricks were purchased and laid in the breezeway of the new Marktplatz - an effort that raised more than $250,000. One of the bricks reads “I get burnt down, but I get up again.”

Bricks will be available for purchase again this November, as part of the Help Pave the Way campaign, for placement at Marktplatz in 2022.

Gates open at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Festival end times vary from 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m. on Fridays and midnight on Saturdays.

Beer tickets and admission costs are cash-only, but ATMs can be found on-site. Beer tickets are sold on Wurstfest grounds and are required for alcohol purchases. They can also be purchased online here.

Wurstfest 2021 (KSAT 12)

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.