Full House: Sommerzeit


A new old festival




It sounds like an enthusiastic greeting you might hear on the streets of Dusseldorf. Or something you shout when you win a party trivia game. And in a way it is. “What is the name of a new festival that has roots in a traditional event fondly remembered as Night In Old Fredericksburg?”

According to sources eating the lunch special at Catfish Haven last Friday, NIOF started more than 50 years ago. Various people remembered the first one being held at the old fair grounds as a fundraiser to send the high school band on a trip, either to Mexico or Louisiana. Diners debated whether the exact year was 1963 or 1964 (Charlie Feller?), but that really doesn’t matter. The fact is, it is old enough to be considered a bona fide “tradition.”

After those first gatherings, the chamber took on NIOF for a few decades, then three years ago handed it over to the Gillespie County Fair and Festivals Association. For 2016, Kristin Barnett of Signal Event Group in Fredericksburg offered to “re-brand” it for the association, according to Edward Stroeher.

“We wanted to keep the German part of Night In Old Fredericksburg, since that has been so important,” said Stroeher, who is a lifetime director on the fair board. “But we wanted to expand the cultural aspects, add a kids’ component, and bring in some other tastes.”

So what does Sommerzeit look like?

Using a hackneyed Donnie and Marie reference: It’s a little bit country; it’s a little bit Mexican; but it’s still German.

Sommerzeit literally translates to “summertime,” according to Barnett.

“We wanted to create something totally different,” she said. “It’s a fun summer night, pulling in some of the other cultures of the Hill Country.”

Those cultures include its storied German heritage, its Mexican roots, and the cowboy connection. Those will be reflected in food choices at the German Biergarten, Mexican Mercado, and Cowboy Grill. Vendors will also be serving up craft beers, including brews from Fredericksburg’s own Pedernales Brewing Company.

Five live music acts will provide continuous entertainment on a covered outdoor stage, including Sun City, Justin McFarland, Jake Martin, Brandon Rhyder, and the Dirty River Boys.

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