GOOD TIMES
Jordan Collins and his sister, Kanani, wait for the Spider to take off during the 2008 Oktoberfest. The annual event offers four days of “Oompah!” music, German food and beer, midway rides and games, circus entertainment and lots of other things to see and do.

The Chicken Dance is once again coming to Redstone Arsenal!

By far one of the favorite traditions of the Arsenal's annual Oktoberfest, the Chicken Dance will be performed often this weekend by Terry Cavanaugh and the Alpine Express as revelers of all ages take to the dance floor in the event's FestHall Tent.

If you like authentic "Oompah!" music, and German food and beer, then Oktoberfest should be at the top of your list of things to do this weekend.

But partaking of German fare and customs isn't the only thing going on at the festival. Oktoberfest is also a must-do for anyone who enjoys midway rides and games, carnival food, and circus entertainment.

"It's Oktoberfest with an Alabama flair," said Mark Germonprez, of the Directorate of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, who is a co-event coordinator of the festival with FMWR's Kenneth McDonald.

"Oktoberfest always offers a tremendous value and great family fun. We offer a much more secure environment, unlimited rides, great entertainment, and this festival costs half the price of the county fair we had here a few weeks ago. We also offer more than any other fair with our Oompah band, great German food and authentic German beers."

Festival hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, and 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 on Thursday and Sunday, and $13 on Friday and Saturday. In addition, Thursday night is Active Duty Night when active duty military and up to five family members will be admitted to the festival for only $8 per person.

"The cost of the festival gets you free carnival rides, free parking and free entertainment," Germonprez said.

"We will have more than 10,000 people here over the four days of the festival. Friday night always gets busy after the high school football games are over. Saturday night is the most popular time for the festival and Sunday afternoon is a huge family day. Thursday night is a great time to come if you want shorter lines and shorter wait times."

Oktoberfest is open to the general public, who must enter at Gate 10 on Patton Road. Drivers must show a driver's license, and proof of registration and insurance. Military and Department of Defense and NASA civilians and contractors can enter the Arsenal from other gates to avoid gate congestion on Patton Road.

The festival's German traditions will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Festhall Tent with the keg tapping. Terry Cavanaugh and the Alpine Express will follow up the keg tapping with a night of music ending at 11 p.m. They will perform again on Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 2-6 p.m.

"Terry Cavanaugh and the Alpine Express is something that the crowd absolutely loves," Germonprez said.

Also in the Festhall Tent, the Officers and Civilians Club will serve up a wide variety of German beers not normally found in this area. There will also be lots of great German food, including sauerkraut, Wiener schnitzel and bratwurst. For those who want to veer off from German food, Papa John's, the festival's title sponsor, will be selling pizza in the Festhall Tent.
The other headliner for Oktoberfest is the carnival rides. This year, the festival will offer more adult rides.

"This is our third year working with Modern Midways (who brings in the carnival rides). They are getting better at finding the right mix of rides for our crowds," Germonprez said. "We are always working to try to get the best rides to match the demographics of our customers."

There will also be a circus featuring a trapeze act that will perform several times each night. And there will be lots of midway games.

Additions to the festival in recent years will make repeat performances, including The Home Depot tent where children make bird houses and stepping stools out of wood, the arts and crafts vendor area, and the Sports Tent.

"If there is a game on we will have lots of TVs there so everyone can watch their favorite team play," Germonprez said. "We will have five HD TVs set up on all the college and NFL football games. We will also be selling barbecue in the Sports Tent this year."

Also returning will be the opportunity to purchase an Oktoberfest festival mug imprinted with personal pictures actually taken at the festival by FMWR's Arts and Crafts Center, and the deep fried Twinkies and Snickers sold by the Officer and Civilian Women's Club. Available this year for the first time will be Oktoberfest T-shirts, sold for $10 each.

There will also be an RV display by Madison RV Center, a bicycling display by Cycle Nation and a General Motors display featuring the new 2010 Camaro. The Camaro will be on display for Redstone Arsenal fans only today at the Rec Center basketball court. It will move inside the festival on Thursday.

Oktoberfest is brought to Redstone Arsenal every year as a major fund-raiser for FMWR.

"This is a weekend filled with lots of fun for families and friends," Germonprez said. "It is also a main way for us to raise funds that go back into programs here at Redstone Arsenal to support our Soldiers and the civilians and contractors who support our Soldiers.

"Every nickel we raise stays at Redstone Arsenal. We spend that money on capital improvements. The money pays for things like new gym equipment, upgrades to facilities, and a new lawn mower for our golf course."

Festival sponsors include Papa John's, Cycle Nation, Fox 54, WZYP, Knology, Miller Lite, The Huntsville Times, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Verizon, Coca Cola and The Home Depot. Sponsors will have booths at the festival.

Assisting with Oktoberfest are the Sergeants Major Association, the 832nd Ordnance Battalion and the 59th Ordnance Brigade, the Marine Detachment and the Butler High School JROTC. Arsenal police and fire personnel as well as HEMSI will be on hand as will officials from the Directorate of Public Works, Directorate of Logistics and Chugach.

"A lot of agencies help us put this event together every year. They are integral to making Oktoberfest a success," Germonprez said.

Oktoberfest will go on, rain or shine.

"Last year, it rained on Sunday and our crowds were pretty low. But we stayed open and the people who were here had a great time," Germonprez said. "If there is lightning or bad storms in the area, we do have places where people can go for safety. But if it's just raining, we will still be open and whoever is here will have a great time."

Page last updated Fri September 18th, 2009 at 12:51