These Are the Wurst of Times

And that's the best of times

It is the dream of all sausage-loving people to live in a nation where the divine link is celebrated. Not just enjoyed with a hearty breakfast, nor perfunctorily served at tailgating parties and baby showers, but actually celebrated with gusto and mirth by aficionados of the art. The people of Hermann, Missouri, know how to celebrate the stately sausage, and they do so with authority on Saturday and Sunday (March 19 and 20) at the annual Wurstfest.

On Saturday at the Hermanhoff Festhalle (visit www.hermannmo.info for directions), the state's greatest wurstmachers present their most toothsome work for the delectation of a judging panel. Suitably inspired by these Barons of Brat, eager contestants can enter a Brat Knot-Tying contest at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Over at the Stone Hill Winery Pavilion (1110 Stone Hill Winery Highway, Hermann; 800-932-8687), experts demonstrate the ancient and beautiful art of knotting meat into edible ropes. At both locations on both days, acres of bratwurst, knockwurst, pinkelwurst, leberwurst and the infamous Patty Hearstwurst (a wurst so tasty it takes over your mind and makes you commit crimes in the name of sausage) abound, with only a $5 charge for sampling.

Sunday begins with a "whole hog" breakfast of sausage, sausage and (yes!) more sausage at the Hermann Fire House #2 (breakfast lasts from 7:30 a.m. to noon, so wear loose-fitting pants), followed by a 1 p.m. Wiener Dog Derby. Of course, sausage will be in great supply all day, and the streets are sure to be littered with the fat and happy bodies of a half-million well-stuffed connoisseurs. Leave us where we lie, dreaming of fair Hermann, where the streams run sweet with good Missouri wine and the trees hang low with sausage, and a man can eat until unconsciousness overtakes his tubby form. -- Paul Friswold

Be a Wrestling Cheerleader

In the sports world, there's all this talk of "March Madness," but what about "March Mat-ness"? It's not fair that the basketball tournament gets all the glory -- the NCAA has wrestling tournaments, too. And you can see the 75th annual NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Thursday through Saturday (March 17 through 19) at the Savvis Center (14th Street and Clark Avenue). Single-session tickets cost $15 to $25 and are available by calling 314-241-1888 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. There are two sessions per day, with Thursday's first session starting at 11 a.m., Friday's at 10 a.m. and Saturday's at 9:30 a.m.; the finals begin at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. For more information visit www.stlouissports.org/wrestling or www.savviscenter.net. -- Alison Sieloff

Belleville Hardcore

SAT 3/19

Now that skateboarding has been completely assimilated into mainstream society, it's not that unusual to see a pack of soccer moms parked on the deck of a halfpipe, smoking and swearing while awaiting their chance to drop in. Still, as heartwarming as these sights are, it's always better to see skating in its raw, street-level form -- like at I.C.H. Skatepark (118 North First Street, Belleville, Illinois; 618-355-0081 or www.ichskatepark.com), where five punk bands get snotty while the Riot skate team tears up the scenery in a demo/party atmosphere from 5 to 11 p.m. It costs $5 to see the bands, $10 to skate, and anyone who rocks the Primo slide will be asked to exit the premises. -- Paul Friswold

Spring Sprang Sprung

SUN 3/20

What is it about springtime? From the Christian Easter to the Zoroastrian Nowruz to the Islamic Sham al-Naseem, most major religions celebrate some holiday that roughly coincides with the beginning of spring. The preliterate metropolitans of Cahokia were no exception: They laid out several circle-shape arrangements of wooden posts, now partially reconstructed and known as Woodhenge, as solar calendars to mark occasions like the spring equinox. Watch the first, perfectly aligned sunrise of spring and learn more about the form and function of Woodhenge at a free commemoration at 5:45 a.m. at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (30 Ramey Street, Collinsville, Illinois; 618-346-5160 or www.cahokiamounds.com). -- Jason Toon

 
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