My Wurstfest Experience: A First-hand Report

My 2016 Wurstfest Experience

by Sarah Mathers
CALS Communications Intern

On July 21, I attended the annual Wurstfest event held by Iowa State University’s Department of Animal Science as part of the 38th annual Sausage and Processed Meats Short Course July 18-22.

The short course is an Iowa State institution and so is it’s culminating event, the Wurstfest.

For nearly four decades, the short course has provided meat industry professionals with education and information on the latest technologies of sausage production and other meat processing. Topics include basic meat science to demonstrations of processing techniques. Speakers are nationally and internationally recognized authorities. The 2016 short course covered fresh sausage, cooked sausage, dry and semi-dry sausage, formed cured meats, whole muscle precooked meats, reduced fat products and ethnic sausage products.

This year’s short course and Wurstfest was very special because it was Klaus-Peter Kreibig’s final year with Iowa State’s annual Wurstfest. Kreibig is a German sausage manufacturer and has served an incredible role in Wurstfest for the past 30 years. He has been a key person responsible for making this event so educational, enjoyable and successful.….

When I first arrived to Gateway Hotel to celebrate Wurstfest, I was in awe at the number of people attending – about 250.

As I made my way to the dining room for the main event to begin, I was amazed at how elegant this evening was. Each table was covered with a while table cloth and beautiful table setting. I was placed at a table with six other people who also has never experienced Wurstfest before, which made for a very enjoyable time.

There were more than 60 sausage products to choose from. All were incredibly unique. There was cranberry loaf, pizza loaf, apple smoked sausage, chicken mandarin aspic and many others. Table my table, we lined up to enjoy the creations that were so elegantly placed on the long serving table. Everyone took their time examining each sausage and deciding what they would make room for on their plate. It was a challenging task.

Back at my table, it was time to test the products. My first bit into a cheddar and jalepeño bratwurst sausage was crisp, spicy and decadent all at the same time. Everyone in the room had gone from having conversations about everyday life, work and kids to raving about how wonderful everything tasted. I now understood why this event was so popular and why so many people enjoyed taking part in it every year.

My favorite products were the smoked sausages, the variations of bratwursts and the German Salami. Along with the sausages and meats, there were Garlic Mashed Potatoes as well as a root vegetable dish, which were both equally delicious.

After we’d all had our fill, there was a heartfelt recognition to all of the people who made this event possible given by Joe Cordray, an animal science professor who is very involved with Wurstfest. Everyone who contributed to this event was recognized and given a box of gourmet chocolates. I was incredibly surprised when my name was called to receive chocolates and recognition for attending.

The most touching part of the evening was Kreibig’s farewell. Recognition of all his years of heard work was an amazing tribute to witness. During Kreibig’s 30 years with Iowa State’s sausage and processed meats short course, he has worled with 2,430 people and influenced several students to pursue careers in meat science. A meat science extension scholarship was created to honor Kreibig’s work with Iowa State and the first recipient was declared during the ceremony, McKenna Powell. Powell is a student at Iowa State pursuing her Masters in Meat Science and she was honored to receive this award. 

Wurstfest was an unforgettable experience. It represented more than sausage production. It was about the people who attended, the teamwork involved to make the event possible and the passion for the meat industry.