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A Battle Over Beer Split a Texas Town’s Biggest Party

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A Battle Over Beer Split a Texas Town’s Biggest Party

Muenster, Texas, has hosted a German-heritage festival for nearly 50 years. But then some locals rebelled.

Dancers from Whitney High School perform at the annual Germanfest, hosted by the Muenster Chamber of Commerce in Muenster, Texas.

WHY WE’RE HERE

We’re exploring how America defines itself one place at a time. In Muenster, Texas, a contract dispute exposed deeper worries about changing traditions.


By J. David Goodman

Photographs by Desiree Rios

Reporting from Muenster, Texas, where he ate sausage and sauerkraut but did not wear lederhosen.

May 4, 2024

Social media attacks. Intransigent factions. An anonymous letter complaining about the harm done by some neighbors to the harmony of a bucolic Texas town.

The division that erupted in recent months in Muenster, Texas, a farming and ranching community north of Dallas, resembles the political polarization that has ripped apart many communities across the nation.

But the fight in Muenster, a town settled by German immigrants, has not been about politics. It has been about beer.

Or rather, about how to divvy up the proceeds from selling beer at the biggest thing that happens in Muenster every year: the town’s three-day Germanfest. The dispute has bitterly divided neighbors in a town that prides itself on its Texas German heritage and spirit of volunteerism.

Opening ceremonies at the annual Germanfest, hosted by the Muenster Chamber of Commerce. This year, a separate festival was held at the same time.
At the festival held by the chamber of commerce, Bob Kager, 92, adjusts Steven Stapleton’s lederhosen.

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