A Texas Sized Celebration
Fredericksburg will kick off a year-long commemoration of its 175th anniversary in May
Stroll through Fredericksburg’s Marktplatz Park on historic Main Street, past the Maypole that displays each chapter of the town’s history along its branches, past the octagonal Vereins Kirche building that is a replica of the town’s very first community building, and you will stumble onto a bust of John O. Meusebach.
In the mid-1800s, Meusebach was responsible for leading a group of immigrants fleeing Germany’s social, political, and economic conditions that would result in the Revolution of 1848. The group known as the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas wanted to establish a new German settlement within the Lone Star State.
After years of preparation, the group landed in Texas in 1844. The group first established themselves in New Braunfels after purchasing 1,265 acres of land for $1,112. On May 6, 1846, Meusebach chose a location 70 miles northwest of New Braunfels near the Pedernales River to be the group’s second Texas settlement. The 10,000-acre settlement was located between the two creeks with an abundance of water, stone, and wood. The 120 original German settlers received a parcel of land in town in addition to 10 acres outside of town. Meusebach named the new settlement Fredericksburg after Prince Frederick of Prussia.
Like many pioneer towns, Fredrickburg’s first years were not easy. Disease, Comanche attacks, and drought proved trying for the early settlers. Since its humble beginnings, however, Fredericksburg has grown into a popular tourist destination known as the second most visited wine region in the nation while still holding on tightly to its German roots.
Although the 175th Anniversary Steering Committee has decided to postpone portions of the opening weekend celebration formerly slated for May 2021 and remains committed to following local, state, and national CDC guidelines and recommendations relating to COVID-19 safety, there are still several socially-distanced events starting May 7, 2021.
Updated 175th Anniversary Opening Weekend Celebration events include:
• “The Art of Fredericksburg: 175 Years” art show featuring more than 60 pieces of original art created by nearly 30 talented artists throughout Fredericksburg’s history will be on display May 8 through September 19, 2021. The free exhibit will take place in the George H.W. Bush Gallery’s temporary exhibit hall at the National Museum of the Pacific War.
• Opening Weekend Celebratory Fireworks Show will take place on Friday, May 7, at approximately 9:00 PM at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.
• Commemorative Founders Day Wreath Laying Ceremony at Marktplatz on Saturday, May 8 at 11:30 AM.
MORE WAYS to celebrate
To plan a historic weekend in Fredericksburg, start by booking a stay at one of the Sunday Houses around downtown. The original settlers who lived and farmed on large swaths of land surrounding Fredericksburg built one-room homes on their downtown plot of land. These tiny homes became known as Sunday Houses because settlers would use them during the weekend when they came to town to conduct business and attend church.
Several of the original Sunday Houses that dot the downtown area are available for short-term rentals. The white-washed, two-bedroom Metzger Sunday House is one of the most popular Sunday Houses for rent. In 1898 the farming family built the tiny home one block away from Main Street. The picturesque home with its hanging swing on a small, covered porch looks like it did when it was built. The outside staircase leading up to an upstairs loft is typical of homes in the time period. Children would sleep in the upstairs loft while their parents slept and cooked downstairs.
The town’s rich history does not end with lodging. The Pioneer Museum provides a glimpse of what life was like for the early settlers and how Fredericksburg evolved into the German-Texan town it is today. 11 historic buildings from the town’s early days make up the outdoor museum. Visitors can walk through one of the town’s original log cabins, a one-room schoolhouse, the town’s first barbershop, and several early Texas homes staged with furniture from the time period. History-loving visitors can also take a tour of St. Mary’s Parish that dates back to 1846 and browse the collection of Gillespie County archives in the replica of the Vereins Kirche.
While museums provide important historical context, one of the best ways to explore a region’s culture is through food and drink. Walking around town, visitors will find an abundance of restaurants and biergartens dedicated to preserving the town’s German roots. It is easy to spend a whole day eating German food in Fredericksburg. For breakfast, stop by the Old German Bakery and Restaurant for potato pancakes or a Holstein schnitzel. For lunch or a late afternoon snack, the Auslander in the heart of historic Fredericksburg is a go-to destination. The restaurant specializes in authentic German dishes from the state of Bavaria, which means the menu is full of various types of smoked sausage, schnitzels, and German beer. Otto’s German Bistro just off Main Street uses locally sourced ingredients to create German comfort food like duck schnitzel, German Kassler, and apfelstrudel.
Speaking of beer, finish your celebration by raising a pint of hefeweizen to the town’s history at Altstadt Brewery. The brewery spared no expense when building the Bavarian-inspired biergarten just outside of the historic downtown. Brewers at Altstadt follow the historic German purity law of 1516, which dictates that they only make beer using four ingredients – hops, barley, yeast, and spring water. For more information and updates on the event visit, 175th.org.
Photo creditS: Main Street – Rhiannon Taylor, Maibaum at Marketplatz – C. Barrington, Vereins Kirche – Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau, Pioneer Museum – Pioneer Museum, Otto’s German Bistro – Trish Rawls, Altstadt Brewery – Altstadt Brewery