VICTORIA — For 33 years, the Victoria community has joined surrounding areas in celebrating its deep-rooted German heritage in a big way.

Friday marks the first day of this year’s celebration and is the official beginning of the weekend-long festival called Herzogfest, which takes place in the Victoria City Park and downtown area.

“It started many years ago as a sidewalk sale by the businesses in town,” said Marge Rome, president of the Herzogfest Board of Directors. “It just grew and grew, and eventually it moved to the city park here.”

Rome explained the festival’s name derives from when the English settled in the area, calling their town “Victoria,” and then the Germans came, who called their town “Herzog.”

“The English left and the Germans stayed. They took the name Victoria,” Rome said. “So, over 30 years ago, when they tried to come up with a name for this event, they just decided to use Herzog and add fest to it.

“It’s been called Herzogfest ever since.”

Today, the free event consists of family fun including musical entertainment, bountiful German food, vendors, games and activities.

Numerous sponsors get involved with the celebration so it is made possible.

“One of our main objectives and something that really keeps us busy all year is getting sponsors for the event,” Rome said. “That’s how we have the funds to make it happen.”

Fundraisers, including golf tournaments, also help with the costs.

Many vendors have prepared and will be selling abundant German food. The vendors include Bribiesca Concessions, Sno-Shack, the Victoria High School basketball team, the Basilica of St. Fidelis, Vincent’s St. Boniface Parish, the Victoria Vikings 4-H Club, the Victoria FCCLA, Mid State Cookers, Helping Hands of God, Knights of Columbus, Livin’ Good Concessions and Catering, and Slater’s Big Slice.

Food items prepared by the groups include everything from bierocks and galushkies to hamburgers and prime filet alligator on a stick.

Carol Freitag, a member of the Herzogfest board of directors and St. Boniface parish, said her group of approximately 10 people has been preparing food since May.

“We’ve been preparing it for two to three months,” she said.

“I’ve been cooking turkey and straining broth. I probably have 17 or 18 buckets of broth.”

Freitag said her brother made approximately 150 pounds of homemade noodles for the event.

“We hauled them from Hays to Victoria,” she said. “We had a whole pickup bed full of noodles.”

With all the food, games, activities and entertainment, Herzogfest’s 33rd year is sure to be another one to remember.

Friday’s activities include free swimming and games, a welcome ceremony and concerts by Courtney Sue Irwin and the Buckner Creek Band starting at 7:30 p.m., followed by Charlie Worsham who is set to take the stage at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday is scheduled to be jam-packed with festivities including athletic events, the sixth annual rod, custom and cycle show, a free cancer screening, bingo, a pedal pull and additional performances by the Wes Windholz Band at 5:15 p.m. and Paramount at 9 p.m.

Between concerts, there will be karaoke and pinochle.

“It’s a time for people to get together, not just for people in Victoria, but for families and relatives that come back,” Rome said.

“Where else can you go sit under a tent, have some good food, enjoy concerts, spend time with friends and family, and do it all for free? I don’t know of any other place where you can do that,” Freitag said.

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