At Waynesville, Ohio’s Sauerkraut Festival, of course!
The Sauerkraut Festival
For such a small town, Waynesville knows how to draw a crowd. This year, 460 craft vendors from over 25 states brought their handmade goods to sell in the booths that line Main Street and a few other side streets along the packed path through town. It’s wall-to-wall people every year. Quite a testament to the food, music, fun, and festivities in this Germanic heritage town about 30 miles north of Cincinnati. In fact, 2019 marked its 50th year!
What once began as a Fall sidewalk sale with sauerkraut has become a two-day event that draws ~350,000 and serves 7 tons of sauerkraut in the process!
So Many Sauerkraut Foods!
To say that Waynesville, Ohio is pungent with the aroma of sauerkraut during the festival weekend is an understatement. Nearly every food booth at this annual event serves some form of this cabbage dish: brats with sauerkraut, pizza with sauerkraut, sauerkraut salsa, sauerkraut fudge and even sauerkraut donuts. I usually make a beeline for the sauerkraut balls — delectable little fried balls of cream cheese, sausage, sauerkraut, mustard, garlic and minced onion. I could easily fill up on these, left to my own devices.
But what I liked even better this year were the sauerkraut donuts. There was a line wrapping along and behind this booth. A bag of a dozen little minced-sauerkraut donuts was only $5.00 and the crowds could not get enough. It was the first time I tried them and if I’d known how good the warm, cinnamon-sugar-tossed donuts were, I would have bought more than one bag. My daughter and I finished our dozen before we even got back to our car!
Waynesville is a small town in rural southwest Ohio founded in 1797 bu Samuel Highway. He thought his town would become the capital of the Northwest Territory– a dream that never materialized. It is interesting to note that Waynesville, Ohio was settled as a town before Ohio even became a state in 1803. But it’s not known as a territory capital. It is, however, more commonly known as the unofficial “Antique Capital” of Ohio.
Waynesville has made its Sauerkraut Festival an integral part of its heritage. Several local organizations set up booths as fundraisers during the event and Waynesville has even developed a scholarship fund from proceeds of the festival for deserving high school students.
This was my third visit to the Sauerkraut Festival. While I love all the foods and enjoy browsing the stalls, the crowds have become almost too massive for the narrow town streets. I can only imagine that the festival and its crowds will continue to grow. The town just needs to make more room for another ton of kraut and the fans that come with it next year!
What local food festivals take place in your part of the world?