Craft Beer & Great Live Music Highlight Changes to 12-year-old Street Festival

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Don't worry, everything you've come to know and love from Wein and Saengerfest is returning this year - exquisite wines from Texas, Germany, the Pacific Coast and Washington State will all be featured. The annual Chef Showdown competition (which pits amateur chefs against each other à la TV's Iron Chef) will take place throughout the entire day. You can also count on a variety of food vendors, kids activities, shopping the Marketplatz, and the popular Grape Stomp. Where Wein and Saengerfest takes it up a notch, is in the new additions to the festival this year.

Craft Beirgarten

Craft Beer is all the rage these days, and it's time wine snobs make room for their sudsy counterparts. This year, the New Braunfels Downtown Association will host a Craft Biergarten on the Seekatz Opera House streetside patio. $15 buys you a commemorative pint glass and 4 drink tickets. Each ticket is good for a 4-ounce pour; or, use 3 tickets, and fill up the glass. Additional tickets are $2. Sample from 8 flavors of craft beer from 4 Texas breweries: Karbach Brewing Company's Love Street and Hopadillo, Pedernales Brewing Company's Robert Earl Keen Honey Pils and Classic Hefe, Freetail Brewing Company's Bat Outta Helles and Original Amber, and Solid Rock Brewing's Roundhead Irish Ale and Cornerstone Cream Ale. Beer drinkers can hop in and out of the Beirgarten all day during the festival to roam downtown and return for refills.

While you're in the Beirgarten, the DTA is welcoming the public inside Seekatz for a Rolling Stones photo exhibit. Hosted by the Comal County Chapter of the Texas Exes, it features photographer Oscar Decker, who photographed the Stones from 1995-2006. Admission is by donation and benefits the Texas Exes scholarship efforts for Comal County high school seniors.

Live Music

Like the drink menu, there's been some nip and tucking at the music as well. This year sees the re-addition of the Hill Street Stage, located at Hill and San Antonio Streets. Starting at noon, continuous live music will bounce between it and the Main Plaza Stage at Main Plaza. Acts playing this year's Wein and Saengerfest are:

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Henry + The Invisibles - 1:00pm - Main Plaza Stage

Yes, Henry has a band. Yes, they are invisible. That's because Henry is the band. Billing himself as a onemanphunkband, Henry + The Invisibles is a festival veteran - he's rocked crowds from Harvest Music Fest in the Ozarks to Float Fest in San Marcos. Wein and Saengerfest will be Henry's New Braunfels debut. If you're looking for a dance party, this is it.

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K Phillips - 2:45pm - Hill Street Stage

K is no stranger to the New Braunfels community, as he took up residency here just a few years ago. But, oh, the places he has gone. Most recently New York, where, during CMJ Fest, Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows surprised everyone by covering one of Phillips' songs. K was brought up on stage to help finish his tune out, and luckily the whole thing was caught on tape. He's Americana meets the Stax soul sound, horn section and all. See K Phillips perform, sans Duritz, at this year's Wein and Saengerfest.

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The Nightowls - 4:15pm - Main Plaza Stage

The Nightowls are Austin's hottest 10-piece vintage soul sensation and recently took home second place in the Austin Music Awards for Best New Band. Horns, keys, backup singers? The Nightowls got 'em! Their "Friday Night Fever" shows at the Phoenix Saloon always pack the house. Do not miss them at Wein & Saengerfest.

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The Derailers - 5:45pm - Hill Street Stage

Just like the title track from their 2003 release, The Derailers are "Genuine". You know the song; you've heard it on KNBT a million times, and it always gets your head nodding. But it won't be all two-stepping at this year's Wein and Saenger as The Derailers' music celebrates the legacies of not only Buck Owens and George Jones, but also cats like Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles! Purveyors of South Austin Americana spanning over two decades, come see what people have been loving all this time.

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Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes - 7:30pm - Main Plaza Stage

Named as one of the top 10 party bands in the United States by Harper's Bazaar magazine, their show captures the sounds, the look, and the fun of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. They close the festival out with their set beginning at 7:30pm.

Chef Showdown

The Chef Showdown this year is highlighted by celebrity judge Chef Brad Sorenson. Brad was cast on The Next Food Network Star and Food Network's Chopped All Stars competition, where he was a finalist for both. He is the owner of the award winning restaurant, NO VA on Rainey Street in Austin. Having participated in and judged similiar competitions, Chef Brad is looking forward to judging all 3 rounds of the Chef Showdown. Look for Chef Showdown heats at 1:30pm and 3:30pm, with the Championship Round at 6pm.

Weinstein University

Also on that side of the festival will be some great local additions to Weinstein University. The U steps up it's game this year with a Wine 101 presented by Dave Cinotto of The Oyster Bar, a Beer 101 presented by Marshall Hogan of Pour Haus, Wine and Pizza Pairings from Chef Tommy Nolan of 188 South and Blue Moose Pizza, a Craft Beer Seminar from Kelly Meyer of New Braunfels Brewing Company, a Craft Beer Food Pairing demo from Chefs Charlotte Samuel and Scott Tompkins of H-E-B's Backyard Kitchen, and finally, The Wine & Beer Challenge: A game show for wine and beer enthusiasts, presented by Jeff Scott of The Mark Wine Group.

Car & Bike Show

Another newbie for Wein and Saenger is the addition of the car and bike show. Main Plaza will shut down at 6pm so you can stroll through the circle, check out the wheels, and vote on your favorites. The top 3 People's Choice participants will be honored at Main Plaza Stage at 8:30pm. If you think your ride can take top honors, be sure to register online. Registration is free, but space is limited.

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Why so many improvements this year? Why not? Wein and Saengerfest is becoming the premier Downtown New Braunfels Street Festival it rightfully deserves to be. Many entities, agencies, groups, and citizen volunteers work tirelessly to bring us this day to stroll the streets of downtown, patronize our local businesses, enjoy a drink, hear some music, meet our neighbors, and flat out just have a good time.

*Wein & Saengerfest is Saturday, May 2 in Historic Downtown New Braunfels

*There are no entry gates or admission fees. Parking is along the downtown streets, so be prepared to walk. Bring your lawn chair to sit and enjoy the entertainment at the outdoor stages or stop in a restaurant or bar for a bite, or to enjoy additional live music.

*Tasting tickets are now available online! Both beer and wine tickets are available for purchase here.

*For a full list of wineries, the entire entertainment schedule and participation applications, check out weinandsaengerfest.com or call (830) 221-4350.