• Opening the ceremonial beer keg during the "keg tapping" marks the official start to Fort Benning's Oktoberfest.

    Oktoberfest

    Opening the ceremonial beer keg during the "keg tapping" marks the official start to Fort Benning's Oktoberfest.

  • The Gootman Band and Dancers perform a traditional German dance during last year's Oktoberfest at Uchee Creek. The group will perform today and Saturday.  To find out specific show times, visit www.benningmwr.com.

    Okt.jpg:

    The Gootman Band and Dancers perform a traditional German dance during last year's Oktoberfest at Uchee Creek. The group will perform today and Saturday. To find out specific show times, visit www.benningmwr.com.

FORT BENNING, GA - German food and beer, Bavarian yodelers and a whole batch of children's activities highlight the revelry as Oktoberfest cranks up at 4 p.m. today.

Several thousand visitors are expected to descend on the Uchee Creek Activity Center during the three-day event, which runs through Sunday. The celebration is in its sixth year on post.

"It's probably the most fun event of the year," said Donna Hyatt, publicity and acting marketing manager for Fort Benning's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "Even those of us who work the event, we all look forward to it."

The ceremonial keg tapping, set for 5:45 p.m. today, features handcrafted beer from the Benning Brew Pub's microbrewery, which has been the event's top seller for several years, said Al Gelineau, the DFMWR director.

Today and Saturday, there will be traditional German sports and games and musical performances by the Gootman Band and Dancers. The Maneuver Center of Excellence Band is set to play Saturday.

The annual 10K Cross-Country Challenge gets under way at 9 a.m. Saturday. A Volksmarch, or noncompetitive fitness walk, will begin at noon.

Free children's activities all weekend include hayrides, pontoon boat rides, a pumpkin patch, and arts and crafts. The cost is $5 a day per child for unlimited play on the giant inflatables.

But during Sunday's Family Fun Day, children of deployed Soldiers who present an Army Family Covenant card receive a free wristband and 5-by-7 photo.

Because of its popularity, Oktoberfest was expanded from one day to two in 2006 and then went to three days last year, Hyatt said.

"I think a lot of it goes back to World War II days when American Soldiers were exposed to Oktoberfest, and would come back and tell their friends about it," she said. "That's how it grew around the world, and that's how it grew here."

And organizers always try to spice up the atmosphere every year, she said.

The Bavarian yodelers from Mittenwald, Germany, were added to the entertainment lineup and will perform all three days.

"Yodeling is how people would communicate between the valleys in the old days," Hyatt said.
"Today, it's an art form. If you've never heard it, you're in for a treat."

Also new this year is a Saturday dog competition featuring Best Dressed Dog, Best Dog Trick and a Dog/Owner Look-a-Like contest. It will be followed by a family movie that night.

Oktoberfest is open to the public with free admission and parking. A shuttle service from Main Post to Uchee Creek will be available and include stops at the Mall Bowling Center, Afterhours Club and Benning Brew Pub every hour during the event.

The festival runs from 4 to 11 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, maps to Uchee Creek, race registration or a daily events schedule, visit www.benningmwr.com.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16