Spass, the German word for “fun”, is also an important word in German philosophy. So it was no surprise that music, athletic events, carnivals, dances, and celebrations for just about everything else became more and more important. One parade float sign in the 1890s summed up the mood of many festivals: “Strength and Cheer are given you by the foaming of noble City Beer”.
On October 17, 1853, the first Texas Sangerfest (singers festival) was held at Hermann Seele’s farm on the banks of the Guadalupe River. The love of music was passed on generationally through old songs sung in German, and new songs in English. Seele also organized the Kindermasken Ball and Parade in 1857. It is the oldest children’s festival and parade in the country, and is still celebrated each spring in New Braunfels.
The city’s grandest occasions came every quarter-century as New Braunfelsers celebrated their founding with 3-4 days of great ceremony and jubilation. The 25th anniversary, in 1870, included a celebratory parade, with streets and buildings decorated with mountain laurel and cedar. A cannon the original settlers brought from Germany was fired several times a day during the festival. The 50th anniversary in 1895 was celebrated with more cannons along with fireworks, concerts, and dancing. Proceeds were used to install a fountain on the Main Plaza that same year. Naturally, a curb had to be added two years later to keep folks from watering their horses in the fountain.
The Comal County Fair began in 1893 and is still held today, making it one of the oldest county fairs in Texas. It comes to life every September, with all the traditional entries of needlework, pies, cookies, grain, art, cattle, sheep, and swine, as well as the popular carnival, rodeo, and dances.