On Thursday night Judi Heer will oversee volunteers peeling 450 pounds of potatoes, chopping 50 pounds of onions and 30 pounds of garlic and pickles, slicing 400 lemons and peeling five bushels of apples at Hillsborough Middle School.
Heer’s husband, John, will take the reins at the school on Friday night and lead the charge in using a secret German recipe to make more than 400 pounds of sauerkraut; the volunteers will also make more than 550 pounds of potato salad and prepare 3,000 bratwurst and knackwurst and 300 wieners.
Chefs at Tooky Mills Pub and Nonni’s Italian Eatery will pound 350 pounds of pork to be used for grilled and breaded schnitzel
On Saturday, Sept. 24, from noon to 5 p.m., likely more than 3,000 people will indulge in German fare of epic proportions at the ninth annual Hillsborough Schnitzelfest at Butler Park.
“It’s such an intensive effort,” said Babette Haley, executive assistant to the board of the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce, for which the event is a fundraiser. “That’s a lot of people to feed in only a few hours.”
The event was a brainchild of the Heers, who own German John’s Bakery in town, Haley said.
“They wanted to do something to draw people to Hillsborough … Judi supervised the food, put together a menu, supervised the preparation and has done that ever since,” Haley said. The Heers also bake traditional German breads, rolls and desserts, including German soft pretzels, apple strudel, kuchen (cake) and schnecken (cinnamon buns).
For those not wanting to wait in what Haley said can be a two-hour line for the schnitzel and sauerkraut, a “fast food” stand will sell bratwurst and wieners with French fries.
The lengthy line, she added, shows the popularity of the event and the food.
“And we know that the people that don’t want to wait in the food lines are eating at other places in town, which is good for the town,” she said. “We are just about at capacity for what we can produce and serve at this beautiful little venue in downtown Hillsborough.”
“Schnitzelmen,” tapered tumbler beer glasses, will be sold and can be filled with New Hampshire-made brews at the event. The beer and wine tent is slated to feature beverages from Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth and LaBelle Winery in Amherst. Haley said she hopes to add meads from Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry to the adults-only offerings.
The Zourkrauts, a traditional Bavarian oompah band, will be returning to the event as will the Wunder Kinder Chor, members of the German Club at ConVal High School who will sing in German and perform traditional dances. Craft vendors will be set up in the park.
“It’s a very traditional event,” Haley said. “It doesn’t change a whole lot from year to year.”
Haley said she always feels that Schnitzelfest shows a small New England town on its very best day, “especially when the weather is good.”
“It’s just this great happy energy that happens over such a short period of time … it’s fascinating to watch so many German people and German descendants get together, laugh, sing and dance, eat heartily and enjoy themselves.”