On March 28, we decided to go to the Tomball German Heritage Festival. It was a nice day out, but didn’t live up to our expectations in the least. I didn’t even take any pictures of the festival itself, aside from a few of our son climbing on a permanent exhibit in the park of a red caboose. Since we have recently moved back to Texas after living in the German part of Switzerland for 18 months, we were eager to feed some of our cravings for German food and beer, and maybe even pick up some other goodies like sausage or cheese. No such luck.
The festival is free, and so is the parking (or it was for 2010 – if you are planning on going in 2011, you might want to check the festival information website). There were a small handful of booths that were selling German-themed items. Most were things that you would see in any tourist shop or airport in Germany. The rest of the booths were selling all kinds of odds and ends that you see at any other festival: clothing, raffle tickets to support various charities, timeshare scams (we almost got roped into one of those), and one very nice local artist that was selling gorgeous jewelry (got a gift for my mother there).
Since the festival is primarily sponsored by ZiegenBock (a Texas beer that got bought out by Anheuser-Busch), that was the main beer, along with several other US beers. No, there weren’t any true German beers at the festival, despite their availability in the US. Disappointing, but we can get decent German beer at our local grocery store.
The food was a mish-mash of sausages and other festival food like kettle corn. One booth had decent potato pancakes served with traditional apple sauce. I opted to feed a craving for fried Oreos (yes, terrible, I know, but it is a weakness), however, for four dollars, you got only four Fried Oreos (you usually get a big bag of them at the Houston Rodeo for the same amount, and they tasted better there). One booth was offering a Currywurst, and maybe two others had sauerkraut.
There were a handful of live bands and kids groups dancing traditional dances, so that was nice to hear and see.
One upside to the festival was the heritage portion of it. In one of the buildings, part of the floor was devoted to a random craft display, but the rest of it had a number of kids projects on German culture and language, and geneology tables all related to the immigration of Germans into Texas and the settling of the Tomball area. It was fascinating. There was also an active booth representing a local German/American club tucked way in the back of the hall. I’m sure that most attendees of the festival missed this building, which was hidden away behind booths.
Parking was a big problem. Yes, it was free, however, there is a dangerous street to cross to get to the festival entrance from the parking area. There is no stoplight, and there were no police officers patrolling traffic to try to keep pedestrians from getting run over as they dashed across the street. Really poorly planned, and frustrating, Tomball – how could you not have officers available for the entrance?
Lastly, I’m of the personal opinion that no respectable festival or business puts its updates on MySpace. Every other business and festival I know of has a page on Facebook. MySpace is a cluttered mess, garish and difficult to disseminate information. Facebook is clean, has more adult users that would be attending the festival, and you can more easily read and update information.
Overall, a fun day out, but if you are expecting to get a ton of German culture, food, and drink, you’ll be disappointed.