A celebration of dedication and achievement unfolded this week as Suzanne Herbelin, Executive Director of the Wurstfest Association, was presented with the prestigious Chair of the Board Award in the field of Tourism. The award was bestowed upon Suzanne after the monthly meeting of the Wurstfest Board of Directors, leaving her surprised.

The Chair of the Board Award, an accolade reserved for exceptional individuals, pays tribute to Suzanne's extraordinary contributions to Wurstfest. Allison Humphries, Chair of the Board, presented the award to Suzanne in recognition of her remarkable achievements and dedication spanning nearly four decades.

Suzanne's journey with the Wurstfest Association began in 1986, when she assumed the role of Executive Director. Throughout her tenure, she has skillfully overseen the operation of one of the largest celebrations in the state of Texas. Under her leadership, Wurstfest has not only flourished but has also navigated through significant challenges.

Some of the noteworthy milestones in Suzanne's tenure include:

  • 1998: Hosting four-time Grammy Award-winning polka artist Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra at Wurstfest.

  • 2006: Showcasing Wurstfest on a national stage as Good Morning America broadcasted live from the Wurstfest Grounds.

  • 2007: Collaborating with the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department to introduce Kinderhalle, a dedicated area for children's entertainment.

  • 2010: Welcoming Graf Johannes von Oppersdorf, a direct descendant of Prince Solms, to join in the festival's 50th-anniversary celebrations.

  • 2011: Launching Stelzenhaus to commemorate the festival's 50th Anniversary, providing a new venue for revelers to enjoy.

  • 2016: Acquiring the adjacent 4.5-acre LCRA property adjacent to the Mill Pond, allowing for thoughtful development in the years to come.

  • 2019: Overcoming adversity as a fire devastated the historic Marktplatz and caused extensive damage to the Wursthalle shortly after the festival's conclusion.

  • 2020: Navigating the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the cancellation of the festival for the first time in its history.

  • 2021: Triumphantly returning after the pandemic-related hiatus, Wurstfest welcomed over 240,000 attendees to its 60th annual event, featuring a newly constructed Marktplatz.

Suzanne's leadership has not only generated substantial economic impact but has also supported local nonprofits, raising millions of dollars during the festival's run. Her unwavering commitment and innovative spirit have contributed to Wurstfest's enduring success and its place as a beloved cultural institution.

Suzanne and her husband Hal will be honored at the Chamber's annual banquet on January 26, 2024, further celebrating her legacy and the impact she has made on the tourism landscape. This award serves as a testament to Suzanne Herbelin's dedication, vision, and unparalleled contributions to the vibrant tapestry of the New Braunfels community.