Oktoberfest at Walburg Restaurant
The Walburg Restaurant in Walburg, Texas, has an unusual problem. From the last Friday of September until the first Saturday of November—the six weeks of Oktoberfest—owner and native German Ronny Tippelt and his business partner, Randy Light, attempt to outdo their restaurant’s reputation for food and family fun. The Walburg Restaurant is already well known for its biergarten, delicious German food, live bands, and family atmosphere. “Our problem is we really have Oktoberfest all year long,” Ronny explains.
So how do you top that?
“We just make it bigger in October,” Ronny says.
“It’s just a more festive time of the year for us,” he adds. “We’re providing more games and more entertainment.” Keeping with the family atmosphere, the arcade will also feature glo-sticks and face painting for the kids.
Of course, the house band, the Walburg Boys—led by Ronny, who is the accordionist and lead vocalist—will play. “The kids like to hang out in the arcade or jump around the dance floor,” he says, “until we play a song someone recognizes. Then their parents chase the kids off because they want to dance.” During Oktoberfest, more musical entertainment will be provided by Walburg Restaurant regulars the Brushy Creek Brass Band, the PolkaSonics, and the Sieker Band.
The Walburg Restaurant caters to the family, but when most people think Oktoberfest, they think one word: beer. And Walburg Restaurant doesn’t disappoint. They have even begun to carry an organic beer recently, and Ronny is expecting more affordable organic brands to be available soon. It’s only been within the last two years that Oktoberfest beer has been available in the United States.
In Germany, Ronny explains, “you get Oktoberfest beer only during Oktoberfest. It’s not brewed at any other time.” Brewing begins in March, and the process is not completed until the beginning of September, when the beer is shipped out. Ronny and Randy had tried to seek a beer in the United States representative of authentic German Oktoberfest beer and felt they had done well, but once true Oktoberfest beer became available, customers noticed the difference. “That’s not Oktoberfest beer!” was a common complaint. Ronny laughs. “I told them to try the beer; it’s much better. It’s fresh. You don’t get anything old.”
The Walburg Restaurant is a German gem in the middle of the Texas hill country, but Ronny has never felt like they were hidden away. “It’s only four miles east of I-35.” Ronny purchased the restaurant in 1987 and says, “I just had the right feeling about it. It was a German community. It had so much potential: the land, being out in the country. It’s exactly like Munich. They hold Oktoberfest in this big park, and that’s how we do Oktoberfest in Walburg.”
By Emily Treadway
Photos by Carol Hutchison