ELBERTA, Ala. (WKRG) — Twice a year, the tents go up and preparations begin as vendors from across the country get ready for a busy weekend in Elberta.

“Arts and crafts of all kinds, anywhere from woodworking projects to handcrafts. I mean, you name it, we’ll have it,” said Deputy Chief Heath Staimpel with the Elberta Volunteer Fire Department.

But, the big seller here is the sausage. 6,000 pounds of it will be sold this year.

The Elberta German Sausage Festival — this year, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 28 — is the largest fundraiser for the volunteer fire department, and every dollar counts. 


“You’ve got fuel, you’ve got turnout gear. Turnout gear is a couple thousand dollars a firefighter to outfit. Not to mention the other equipment you’ve got to have: your air tanks and all,” Staimpel explained.

He says a lot of the setup happens Friday, but additional volunteers will arrive by 2 a.m. Saturday morning to start cooking sausage and complete any final preps before the festival opens at 8 a.m.

“Get here early. Lines normally line up pretty long, about 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.,” he said.

Like most volunteer departments in Baldwin County, Elberta needs additional firefighters to help keep up with the demand, so the festival is also a good time to connect with Deputy Chief Staimpel and other leadership if you want to get involved.

“We’re running more calls than we have been, so our fuel costs are up; maintenance is more than it has been in the past. We have approximately 25 to 30 people on roster, but the response that we’re having now we’re needing probably about another 10-12 people,” Staimpel added.

Every March and October, the Elberta German Sausage Festival brings in roughly $40,000 for the department, but it also costs a lot to put on the event.

“The cost of sausages went up; the cost of all of our supplies all the way down to the ketchup packets that we use,” he continued.

More than 20,000 people are expected to pack the town park on Saturday.

Learn more about the event on its website.