Otto Bluntzer, a master blacksmith, fires metal until it becomes soft enough to bend and shape with hand tools.
The blacksmithing work has become so popular that his blacksmith shop in Ander has outgrown its space.
The Goliad Forge, a blacksmithing nonprofit organization that he established in 2012, is hosting Oktoberfest with the Goliad Brewing Company on Friday and Saturday.
“Our shop is saturated with equipment and membership,” Bluntzer said of the shop just north of Goliad. “We have outgrown the facility and our objective is to find a suitable property near the crossroads in Goliad where we can build a structure to serve larger numbers of blacksmiths.”
Over time, the nature of blacksmithing has evolved from utilitarian to artistic – from plowshares, wagon wheels and utensils to decorative railing, gates, and home decor, he said. While the Goliad Forge has hosted demonstrations and markets at annual events, such as Rio! Rio! and Christmas in Goliad, this festival marks its first large-scale fundraiser.
On Friday night, $20 tickets will include a dinner buffet provided by McMillan’s Bar-B-Q, beer on tap and entertainment by Christina Valdez, an accordion player from San Benito. Former county judge and auctioneer Pat Calhoun will lead the sale of a dozen hand-forged items including decorative crosses and flowers, dinner chimes, and custom skinning knives with leather sheaths.
Saturday, festivities will gear up again at noon at the brewery. Country-Western musicians and the accordionist will provide a mix of music. Guests can purchase barbecue and cold beer as they shop at a market featuring more than 100 items hand-crafted by Goliad Forge members. More decorative flowers and crosses, jewelry, long-handled barbecue utensils, and camping-related items will be available for purchase under the tent. Guests also can buy raffle tickets for items that will be given away throughout the day. Children can enjoy root beer, a pumpkin patch and a hayride, among other programs and activities.
Finding a location for the new facility near the intersection of U.S. 183 and U.S. 59, the crossroads in Goliad, is ideal because of its close proximity to plenty of restaurants and motels, a state park with camping facilities, shopping in the historic downtown district and Presidio La Bahia, a local tourist attraction, he said.
Bluntzer, who has been a blacksmith for 19 years, envisions a well-equipped “teaching museum” always accessible by qualified members. The hub for instruction, work and display of hand-forged items also might include room for other craftsmen, such as leather workers, glassblowers and woodworkers. And the public would have access during established hours, he said.
The Goliad Forge meets the third Saturday of every month. Almost 60 members travel as often as their schedules allow from towns near and far for instruction and practice. Bluntzer makes his shop available by request most days of the week to about a dozen of the group’s active members, as well.
“The curriculum offered is tested and proven by the Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America and our own leadership structure,” Bluntzer said.
Bluntzer teaches beginners the basic techniques, and each of them takes a completed project home. They advance to more challenging projects that take more time as they acquire sufficient skills.
“The success of any organization is not only within its leadership but also in its membership,” Bluntzer said of the organization’s future. “We need to not only attract members but also to maintain a group of members who can and will serve to maintain our goals and objectives.”