History of the Berges Fest
Current Berges Fest expands on its 1967 origins

Believe it or not, Berges Fest began as a simple ice cream social. Since its inception in 1967, however, the uber-Deustch fest quickly morphed into one of Boerne's biggest - and most anticipated - weekends. It was originally established to bring people together to enjoy music, a German biergarten, good food and - way back then - an art exhibit. The founders offered local organizations an opportunity to raise money - and gave fest-goers a chance to spend money. By the look of today's celebration, Berges Fest succeeded on all counts.

 Held annually on Father's Day weekend, the first Berges Fest was a collaborative effort of the local Lions Club and Boerne Chamber of Commerce. The Lions approached the Chamber for help starting a city fair in the Key to the Hills - one of the only towns in the Hill Country that didn't boast an annual city-sponsored event. The idea of staging an old-fashioned social activity suitable for the entire community sparked everyone's interest.

 The Lions and Chamber started the inaugural Berges Fest using only $500 and a handful of volunteers. Help came from New Braunfels when committee members from the Wurst Fest in New Braunfels offered a hand - which was accepted with alacrity. The Wurst Fest is the oldest festival in this area of the Hill Country and one of Texas' most successful.

 The Lions club conducted a contest to select a name for the proposed event, and if memory serves, Anna Voges came up with the winning moniker.

 Originally, the Miss Berges Fest competition was held on Friday night with the winner announced the next day. Those attending the early event had to hotfoot it from ceremonies conducted at Boerne City Hall on San Antonio Street to other events held at the gazebo on Main Plaza. Walter McAllister, then-mayor of San Antonio, served as the first guest of honor.

 The event featured a free street dance, a Mexican food booth and music by the Boerne Village Band and the U.S. Air Force Band. A fatted calf wasn't sacrificed for the event, but one was auctioned off.

 The event's founders decided that the first Berges Fest would be deemed a success if they cleared enough money to stage a second the following year. The initial event brought in $500, which at that time assured the fest's future. And the rest, as they say, is history.

 Referenced from:

"Berges Fest" means Festival of the Hills
Original 1967 proposed logo courtesy of Hilmer Haufler
Origin of Boerne Berges Fest

With construction of Interstate Highway 10 being almost completed in 1967 Boerne's main street was bypassed and many businesses closed their doors leaving many vacant buildings on Main Street.   The Boerne Chamber of Commerce and the Boerne Lions Club decided to enter into a joint venture to try to draw attention to downtown Boerne and generate interest and commerce for local merchants and the city itself.

The initial proposed purpose of the venture was "To promote Boerne as an attractive place to visit, to live, and to do business by encouraging friendly, courteous service.  To provide an opportunity for fellowship and relaxation by people who are proud of Boerne and want to share their good fortune with others."

The President of the Boerne Chamber of Commerce at this time was Alex H. Wertheim and the president of the Lions Club was Adrian D. White.  Each organization donated $250 and an additional $645 was obtained by soliciting patrons which helped to fund the joint venture.  It was decide that Mr. Wertheim would be President and Mr. White would serve as Vice-President.  Initially the event was known as Boerne Day but it was decided to hold a contest to name the event.  From April 17-28 over 30 entries were submitted.  The winning name Boerne Berges Fest (Boerne Hill Country Festival) was submitted by Mrs. Anna Voges. 

On May 23, 1967 the Certificate of Incorporation was issued by the Secretary of the State of Texas with the stated purpose: "…….to raise and donate money to charitable, benevolent, religious, eleemosynary, educational, scientific, social, fraternal and athletic organizations and to organizations whose activities promote the health and general welfare and civic, business, commercial and industrial advancement and betterment of the community."

Each founding organization enlisted its six incorporators to serve as the initial twelve Board of Directors.
                Lions Club                                Chamber of Commerce
                Victor Doebbler                        Edgar H. Bergmann
                R. M. George                                Erna Davis
                Roger Hestilow                                Alice Gerfers
                Verne E. Powell                        Rosamond Kutzer
                R. C. Schafer                                Kemper M. Moore
                Adrian D. White                        Alex Wertheim

To prepare for the event the Berges Fest worked closely with the City of Boerne to launch the Boerne Beautification Project.  Business owners and Building owners were asked to "Clean Up! Spruce Up! Paint Up!" A letter was distributed by the Berges Fest with suggestions to prepare for the event;

Boerne Berges Fest , Saturday, July First
For the first time in Boerne's history, we are going to have an event in Boerne that will be "All Boerne".  The Boerne "Berges Fest" on the first Saturday in July (July 1) will have ample newspaper, TV, and radio publicity which is sure to bring a large number of visitors to our city.  We want to put our best foot forward.  Below are some suggestions from the Boerne "Berges Fest" Beautification Committee.  Please use them as guide lines for getting your place of business ready for the "Berges Fest"
1.        Clean up! Spruce up! Paint up! Everyone can do this and the results will be long lasting.
2.        Repair or else
remove obvious eyesores!
3.        Wash
all show windows.
4.        Clean sidewalks just before "Berges Fest". (The city will provide for street cleaning.)
5.        If you have window displays, feature articles that will be of interest to people coming to Boerne for Berges Fest, for example: local sausage or other food products, cast iron ware, etc.
6.        Use your imagination in putting planter boxes or pot plants in front of your business establishment or in your window.
7.        If you have a flag, display it! If you haven't, wouldn't this be a good time to get one?
8.        Be proud of our Boerne Community - and your business - and show it!

Since there were a number of vacancies on Main Street at the time, empty store windows were decorated.  The local Boy Scouts cleaned all the windows and citizens decorated them with quilts and antiques.

In addition Mayor John Arleigh Huff wrote a letter to owners of vacant lots within the town to show support of the event and request the property be cleaned prior to the festival.

City of Boerne
 June 22, 1967
Since Berges Fest will be on July 1st and since visitors from all over the State will be here, we are trying to dress up our town and make it as attractive as possible.  You have a vacant lot on (insert address here) which is in need of cleaning up.  Could you co-operate and get this area cleaned up before Berges Fest?
We have an Ordinance on the books requiring owners of lots and premises to keep them free from weeds, rubbish, brush and other unsightly or insanitary matte but we feel that your co-operation can be obtained without it being necessary to invoke this ordinance.
                                                                Sincerely yours,
                                                                John Arleigh Huff, Mayor

In addition to the support the city provided in helping to clean up the city, it also assisted with the trash clean up during and after the festival.  Edgar Schwarz, Frank Taylor, Eddie Zinsmeister and their employees assisted with the unique electrical requirements of the fest, receiving recognition from both the city of Boerne and the Berges Fest for making the first Berges Fest a priority along with their regular city duties.

Roy Liesmann, as the Superintendent of the Boerne Public Schools, showed his support for the festival by generously donating seating for all the events that were part of the Berges Fest.  Mr. Liesmann along with the School Board were given special commendation for the exceptional participation in the Boerne Beautification project.

In preparation for the first Berges Fest several committees were formed to assist the newly created Berges Fest Directors with planning and coordinating the day. 

Primary Committee Members
Adrian White, Mrs. I. A. Kutzer, Mrs Kemper Moore, Mrs Archie Gerfers, Mr Edgar Bergman, Mr Pete Doebbler, Mr Schaefer, Mr R. M. George, Dr Roger Hestilow, Mr. Verne Powell

Physical Facilities Committee
Richard Leeder, Don Gourley, Earl Eckert, Dick Perhamus, Levy Zoeller, Joe Montgomery

Concessions Committee
Earl Eckert, Don Gourley, Richard Quick, Richard Leeder

Music Entertainment Committee
Rev. John Fluth, Jane Quick

Advertising Committee
R. M. George, Liz Powell, Dr. H. C. Day

Finance Committee
Pete Doebbler, Edgar Bergmann

Publicity Committee
Cliff Lewis, Leroy Leschper

Merchant Contact Committee
Alex Fish, H. Farbra, Vernon Adler, M.C. Quinn

Beautification Committee
Dorothy Howell, Rev Obst Lutheran

Street Dance Committee
Dr Roger Hestilow

Art Show Committee
Mrs. I. A. Kutzer

Beer Garden Committee
Johnny Collins

Pageant Committee
Mesdames Doris Ebner, Pat Leeder, Liz Powell, Jane Quick

The Beautification Committee was viewed as a long term commitment that would extend beyond the festival itself and work closely with the city and local merchants to help promote Boerne.

Long range goals - Make long term plans for the general appearance of town; stimulate interest of citizens generally; work with the Parks Commissioner, Streets Commissioner, and Zoning Committee. Create and guide citizens groups to help with the job, such as Garden Clubs, Town Planning Board.

A pageant was held to select a Berges Fest Queen on Monday June 26.  Mrs. W. F. Grinnan was gracious enough to donate the use of the Kendall Inn for the event.   The pageant was emceed by local San Antonio on air personality Ricki Ware who continued to emcee the pageant for many years to follow. 

Twenty two local girls competed in the pageant which comprised of a swim suit competition, an authentic German costume competition and a question and answer period.

Sheila Agold, Linda Bergmann, Tonia Egan, Joan Coffey, Alma Hearing, Diane Day, Jolyn Dierks, Linda Elsworth, Carolyn Ertel, Patsy Green, Patsy Jonas, Cheryl Koenig, Joy Nell LeBleu, Betty Jean Lester, Anita Lewis, Adrianne Maltsberger, Durinda Meckel, Mary Phillip, Alice Schuchardt, Patsy Traylor, Jone Werner and Laura Whitworth.        

The contestants were judged on beauty, poise, personality, posture and costume.  The judges for the pageant were Mrs. Wanda Ecrete (Mrs. San Antonio), Mrs. Earlene Fritz of Fredericksburg and Van Brinkerhoff of San Antonio.

The name of the winner of the pageant was withheld and announced Saturday morning at the start of the Berges Fest.  U. S. Senator Ralph Yarborough crowned Miss Patsy Traylor the first Queen of the Boerne Berges Fest.

The main festival was held in the Boerne Town Plaza from 10am until Midnight and an Art show was held in Memorial Plaza.  To assist in setting up for the festival on the Plaza local contractors Richard Leeder and Slim Giroux donated scaffolding from their jobs and used them to setup booths for all of the vendors and merchants to use. Local merchants and organizations setup and worked various booths for food, entertainment, handcrafts, homecrafts and souvenirs.  Noted organizations and merchants were;

Boerne Chamber of Commerce                                Lions Club
C. H. Davis, Leon Springs                                K. C. F. A. Ladies Auxiliary
Vernard Goetz                                                Blue Boy
Shamrock Café                                                Methodist Ladies
Boerne White Sox                                        United Church Women
Beta Sigma Phi                                                The Library
Bigs of Boerne                                                Dill Dell
Balcones Home Demonstration                                Boerne Locker Plant
Surrey Village                                                Flower Shop
Episcopal Women                                        DeMolay
Rainbow Girls                                                Little League
Cliff Lewis                                                Boerne Bank
Tappan Ranges                                                Fred Gremmel
Boerne Benefit Theatre                                Cub Scouts
Boy Scouts                                                Girl Scouts

The Schedule of events for the day were as follows;
10:00 - Crowing Miss Berges Fest and Band
10:30 - Organ Music
11:00 - Boerne Benefit Theatre                        11am-9pm Art Show and Sales at Memorial Park
11:30 - Lackland Bugle Corps
12:00 - Fire Department Demonstration
12:30 - Aqua Show
1:00 - Boerne Benefit Theatre
1:30 - Lackland Bugle Corps
2:00 - Harmonica Group, Herb's Harpsters        2pm-4pm Teen Dance at Kutzer Studio
2:30 - Aqua Show
3:00 - Fire Department Demonstration
3:30 - Boerne Benefit Theatre
4:00 - Aqua Show
4:30 - Fire Department Demonstration
5:00 - Choral Club
5:30 - Boerne Benefit Theatre
6:00 - Swap Hour                                6pm-8pm Teen Dance at Kutzer Studio
6:30 - Village Band
7:00 - Boerne Benefit Theatre
7:30 - Fiddler's Contest
8:00 - Dance and Square Dance Demonstration to 12:00 Midnight
9:30 - Aqua Show
10:00 - Schnitzelbank

In addition to the entertainment, separate Raffles for adults and children were held for locally donated items. For the Adults three items were raffled off.  Cliff Lewis donated a registered Pollard Hereford, W. E. Janensch, President of the Boerne State Bank donated a $50.00 war bond and J. W. Caudle with Tappen, Inc. donated a Stainless Steel Ware set that showcased on display at Vogt's Clothing Store.  For the Children under the age of 12 and accompanied by a parent, Fred Gremmel donated a Burro.

To help promote local Businesses, local merchants were encouraged to participate in the use of Boerne Bucks.  The idea was to encourage shopping locally by offering a savings to the customer.  Boerne Bucks were sold to the public for $0.90 and were redeemable by participating merchants for $1.00 in merchandise and resold to the Berges Fest for $0.88.  The 2 cents made for each Boerne Buck redeemed would be used to begin a fund for the next year's advertising costs.  To help promote the Boerne Bucks merchants were encouraged to furnish some items at cost to make the savings even larger for the customers.  Special BOERNE BUCKS accepted here signs were displayed in merchant windows to assist in boosting the awareness of the promotion.

It was decided that Berges Fest would be a success if the festival could cover all of its expenses.  The funding for the next year would be generated by the redeeming of BOERNE BUCKS.  However after all expenses were covered the festival managed to make a profit of $584.94 which far exceeded the expectations of the Berges Fest Directors.  With the Festival being deemed a success this paved the way for the continuation of the festival the following year with many additions and improvements to the first successful Boerne Berges Fest.

In later years the Festival grew in attendance and participation and it was decided to move the Festival.  The decision to move fest did not come easily but with limited space and a growing demand for more entertainment the festival outgrew the plaza.  So in 1973 it was decided to move to the Kendall County Fairgrounds.