The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Schnitzelfest New Hampshire. Courtesy photo.

Schnitzelfest New Hampshire

When: Saturday, Sept. 24, from noon to 8 p.m.
Where: Butler Park, 5 Central St., Hillsborough
Cost: Meal tickets are $15 and include your choice of grilled or fried schnitzel or a brat or knockwurst, plus your choice of two sides, bread and a water or soda. Purchase online or at the event. Beer, wine and desserts are an additional cost at the event. 

Stay for the schnitzel
German food festival returns to Hillsborough

By Angie Sykeny

 When the Greater Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce first decided to host a German food festival as a way to bring more visitors to the small town, chamber member Jim Bailey wasn’t expecting a large turnout. 

“I had doubts early on like, ‘Who’s going to come to Hillsborough for schnitzel?’” he said. “But I was surprised. People came, and it’s grown ever since and has become quite a destination.”  
Now in its 14th year, Schnitzelfest New Hampshire draws between 3,000 and 4,000 people from all over the state and region for a day of authentic German food, beer, entertainment and culture. 
This year’s festival takes place on Saturday, Sept. 24, from noon to 8 p.m., at Butler Park in downtown. 
The menu includes four entree options: grilled schnitzel, fried schnitzel with red cabbage, bratwurst and knockwurst. Fresh bread, a choice of two sides like German potato salad and red or white sauerkraut, and a water or soda are included with the meal. Desserts such as strudel and German sheetcake will be available, as well as a wine bar and a beer tent with a couple varieties of German-style beers from Harpoon Brewery on tap. For kids who aren’t fans of the German food, there will be some standards like hot dogs and chicken tenders, too. 
Bailey, who has served as head schnitzel cook since the festival began, said the grilled schnitzel has consistently been the most popular entree choice. 
“It’s pork loin pounded out flat and marinated, and it tastes really good,” he said. “We’re making more of it this year because there’s so much demand for it.” 
Between 350 and 400 pounds of pork will be used for the schnitzel, along with 170 pounds of sausage between the bratwurst and knockwurst and 300 pounds of German potato salad. 
Unlike the typical potato salad made with mayonnaise and served cold, the German version served at the festival has an oil and vinegar base with pickles, bacon, onions and boiled potatoes and is served warm. 
“There’s a lot of different recipes out there for German food,” Bailey said. “You can find a hundred different recipes for German potato salad. Some people say it should be made with red potatoes, some people say peeled potatoes, but when you’re making 300 pounds of it, you kind of have to keep it simple.” 
Food preparations for Schnitzelfest take place the Thursday and Friday before the event, with participation from local businesses that provide the sausage, pound the pork loin and bake the bread and desserts early Saturday morning. Everything is pre-cooked from scratch, then heated up on the grills and fryers at the festival. 
While there are no changes to the menu, the festival committee has been steadily increasing the quantity of the food to ensure that it lasts the entire duration of the festival. With serving hours extended to 8 p.m. this year to “attract more of a dinner crowd,” Bailey said, there will be more food than ever. 
“The type of food has been pretty much the same from the get-go, but in the early days we would run out, so people would start getting there to line up at 11 a.m.,” he said. “That has changed with the times, and we make enough food to make it past that initial rush so people don’t need to get there that early.”
The serving lines and seating area will be housed under a 100-foot tent, along with live German music and entertainment. The beer and wine will be located in the park outside the tent along with a variety of local artisans and vendors selling handmade goods. 
“We must be doing something right for people to come back year after year,” Bailey said. “I think it’s the uniqueness of it. … We really try to make it as authentically German as possible.”

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