COPPERAS COVE — It took one day to grind the sausage, one day to smoke it and one day to cook it. But it took less than four hours for Trinity Lutheran Church to run out of nearly 4,000 pounds of sausage Saturday at its annual German Sausage Festival.
Held at the Copperas Cove Civic Center this year due to a water pipe break in the church, organizers had a difficult time determining the number of people they fed Saturday. But by 1 p.m., 2,500 pounds of raw sausage was gone.
“A lot of people buy the raw sausage to give as gifts for the holidays and several have sausage every year at Thanksgiving,” said Mike Kriegel, chairman of the congregation who heads up the annual event. “We made 400 pounds more this year hoping that we would not run out, but we did anyway.”
The festival is the largest communal effort of Trinity Lutheran Church and many people help with the event who do not attend Trinity services, Kriegel said. The event raised an estimated $20,000 with $10,000 in expenses.
Proceeds will go to local charities such as Cove House and Hope Pregnancy Center as well as the fund to build a new education building to expand Sunday school classes, hold conferences and other gatherings.
With the additional funds, Kriegel said, the church will be able to apply to the city of Copperas Cove for the building permits and should have the new education building in place by the festival next year.
Kreigel said he didn’t know when the German Sausage Festival started but it has occurred at least the last 40 years because of the large German population in Copperas Cove that still exists today.
“My family arrived here in the 1890s along with the Mickens, Teinerts, Herzogs, Jacobs, Frase, Jost and other families of German heritage. I learned to make sausage with my grandfather and we have all carried this tradition down through the generations,” Kriegel said. “I will teach my daughter how to make sausage, too.”
The festival not only serves as a fundraiser but also an outreach opportunity for the church with people outside the congregation volunteering and many customers coming to enjoy the food and atmosphere.
“For people who maybe wouldn’t come on Sunday morning, it’s important that they meet us and then they might come,” said the Rev. Bernard Schey, who visited with guests as they ate their meals. “It’s hard to get people to come and sit in the pews. But if they can see us here having fun and working hard, it develops an element of trust.”
The German Sausage Festival has been a 30-year tradition for Brett Oaks and his family.
“I’ve been coming here for years back from when I served (at this event) as a kid at Trinity. Every deer season, we look forward to the sausage festival,” he said.