#BeerDiplomacy in Darmstadt: San Antonio Attends Heinerfest
Contributed by the San Antonio International Relations Office
Building on the momentum from the recent City Council approval of a Sister City relationship between San Antonio and Darmstadt, Germany, a 10-member cultural delegation traveled to Darmstadt to attend the 27th Annual Heinerfest.
From June 29th to July 3rd, San Antonio joined the festivities of Heinerfest: a five-day festival that draws upwards of 600,000 people to the center of Darmstadt. Representing Darmstadt’s first American Sister City, the colorful San Antonio booth situated in the AlleWeltTreff (All World Place) offered visitors a number of opportunities to learn more about San Antonio’s culture, relevant industries, and the city’s historical ties to both Germany and Darmstadt.
With representation from the San Antonio Charros Association, municipal government employees, and dedicated German volunteers, the San Antonio booth welcomed hundreds of people over the span of the festival. Patrons of the booth also had a chance to spin a special prize wheel adorned with famous Alamo City landmarks and receive San Antonio-themed prizes.
In preparation for San Antonio’s participation in Heinerfest, Mr. James Hudec, Brewmaster at Alamo Beer, worked closely with the well-known Grohe Brewery in Darmstadt to create a collaborative beer that was equal parts San Antonio and equal parts Darmstadt. The result was a tasty IPA that sent shockwaves through the festival for its unique flavor and interesting backstory. The beer was featured even more prominently at the opening reception for Heinerfest — being the first official keg to be opened by The Honorable Jochen Partsch, Lord Mayor of Darmstadt. Indeed the Alamo/Grohe collaborative brew is a stellar example of international #BeerDiplomacy in action.
In the area of culinary exchange, the San Antonio delegation featured well-known local restaurateur Chef Johnny Hernandez. Chef Johnny is a skilled kitchen artisan who was invited by President Barack Obama in 2016 to cater the White House’s official Cinco de Mayo celebration and operates a variety of popular restaurants in several states.
During Heinerfest, Chef Johnny presented two cooking demonstrations at the San Antonio booth where he mesmerized hungry patrons with the wonders of guacamole and ceviche. Additionally, Chef Johnny generously provided delicious South Texan fare for a private reception of more than seventy high-level attendees — of which included The Honorable James Herman, Consul General of the United States in Frankfurt; and Mr. Wolfgang Koehler, President of the Heinerfest Association.
Over the course of Heinerfest, the stage of the AlleWeltTreff came to life with the exciting sounds of The Flyin’ A’s — a husband-and-wife Americana duo from San Antonio, Texas. Joined by three other Europe-based musicians, the group’s contagious energy delighted audiences who filled the plaza to listen to original country tunes as well as San Antonio classics. During their last performance, The Flyin’ A’s invited other delegates from Darmstadt’s Sister Cities up on stage for an impromptu collaboration. The band sang “Unchain my Heart”, accompanied by a Spanish percussion troupe, and backup vocals provided by citizens of Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and France — a truly magical international collaboration!
Though Heinerfest was certainly the main focus for the San Antonio delegation, away from the bustling fairgrounds, connections were still being made. A delegation from the University of Texas at San Antonio was also in Darmstadt to discuss prospective research collaborations between UTSA and TU Darmstadt. Additionally, local German teacher Mrs. Marion Torres met with administration officials of the Justus-Liebig School to discuss future educational exchanges between San Antonio and Darmstadt. Wasting no time, Mrs. Torres has set gears in motion upon her return to San Antonio and has connected with local organization Summer of Service (SOS) for a potential student ambassador visit to Darmstadt in 2019.
From the moment the Lord Mayor smashed open the customary first keg of beer to begin Heinerfest, San Antonio’s presence was known in Darmstadt. We are thrilled to have been able to be a part of Darmstadt’s special celebration and to have shared a small part of what makes San Antonio so unique. The groundwork has been laid for a number of exciting exchanges between our two cities in the areas of: education, economic development, and culture. We are beyond excited to see these collaborations prosper and look forward to a long and successful partnership with Darmstadt. ¡Viva Heinerfest!