Daytrippin’ Schulenburg Texas
Dance Halls, Painted Churches & Good Eats
Daytripping to Schulenburg Texas will transport you into a rich culture of German and Czech heritage. Settlers immigrated here in the 1800’s and brought with them culture, food and faith which you can experience today in rural Texas.
Schulenburg, like many of the small South-Central Texas town, was settled by German, Austrian, and Czech settlers in the mid-nineteenth century. Founded in 1873 when the railway officially came through town, it grew to 1,000 residents by 1884. With 2,852 residents in 2010, the town is still rich with the German/Czech culture.
The main attraction in the Schulenburg area is the Painted Churches. You can take the tour through the Chamber of Commerce (See here for details) or take a self-guided tour which is what I did. The churches look like plain steepled buildings, but step inside you and you be in a jewel box of colors and detail. Four or the fifteen historical churches can be toured during the week. The remainder are either active parishes which you can visit on Sunday or no longer active and you will have to call for special arrangements.
City Meat Market: For lunchtime head over to City Meat Market (aka the Best Little Meat Market in Texas). It is owned by the Smrkovsky family who have been cooking meats here for over 70 years.
They produce 10,000 pounds of sausage per week and cook a lot of Bar-B-Que on Saturday:
- Bar-B-Que Brisket
- Bar-B-Que Pork Shoulder
- Bar-B-Que Pork Ribs
- Bar-B-Que Turkey Breast
- Bar-B-Que Sirloin
- Bar-B-Que Chicken
- Bar-B-Que Sausage
During the week, you can get
- Bar-B-Que Beef Brisket or
- Bar-B-Que Sausage
Basically… a whole lot of BBQ.
Momma’s at Sengelmann’s Hall: Dinner-time! I have been craving schnitzel since leaving Germany, so I was excited to find it at Momma’s. The 1800’s dance hall was closed in the 1940’s after World War II. A $1 million restored the building back to the dance hall with mahogany bar, original stenciling and bier garten out back.
This is the place to be on Wednesday for the weekly jam at 7pm, but get there early to enjoy your schnitzel and to get a seat. They also have some resident ghosts, ask the staff about them.
Potter Country Store: If you need some snacks while driving to all the churches, stop in at the Potter Country Store. They do to pecans what the Smrkovsky’s do to meat. You can find all pecan variations:
- coated in sugar
- peanut butter
Beyond the sweetened up nut, you will find pecans baked into delicious pies, tarts, or fudge.
Just make sure you pronounce it “puh-kahns” and not “pee-can”!
Texas Polka Music Museum: This museum is dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of polka music in Texas by honoring Texas polka bands and musicians of Czech, German and Polish ancestry. Filled with instruments, pictures, outfits, and a map showing every polka band in the Lone Star State, your feet will be tapping when you leave.
Stanzel Flying Models: Victor Stanzel started carving balsa wood into model airplanes in 1929. Joined by his brother Joe, the brothers turned the hobby turned into a thriving business. As their story goes, they also had other projects including designing amusement park rides. The museum is an attraction for model plane enthusiasts, but it’s also a great story of 1st generation farm boys with an entrepreneurial spirit making something of themselves in America.
Sengelmann’s Hall: As mentioned above in the Food section, this is the site of the original music hall that has been faithfully renovated.
This is where I spent Wednesday night and was treated to good Texas country music of the Petit brothers who have been playing together for over 50 years.
What I loved most about the the night was the sense of community in the building. There are lots of long tables where large families and groups come together, have dinner, and enjoy some adult beverages while listening to the music. The kids danced in the aisles while the old-timers glided around the tables (and the kids). I joined in with another group so as not to take up an table and was quickly embraced by friendly Texans for a great night.
If you are not from around there, be ready to have locals come up and “figure you out” – where you are from, what you are doing in town. I am finding that there are not a lot of secrets in small town Texas and they keep their communities tight-knit. For me, it was a very friendly welcome!!!
Check out the video of the Petit Brothers playing Devil Went Down to Georgia:
It takes about 1 hour 15 min to drive from Austin, Texas to the first site, Hostyn Grotto. From there the route is about another hour “straight” driving time. You will likely spend anywhere from 15-45 minutes in each church depending on your interest and if you are lucky enough to run into a local to tell you tales. If you are running ahead of schedule before lunch, move St. Mary’s Church High Hill before lunch.
Schulenburg Roadtrip Map
(Click for more information)
BlueSkyTraveler visited on an independent trip.
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