It takes an entire Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation organization plus lots of volunteers to bring the fun of Oktoberfest to Redstone Arsenal every year. Leading the efforts for Oktoberfest 2010 are, from left, FMWR's Derrick Gould, Kenneth McDonald, Mark Germonprez and Tom Piper. Behind them is the new and improved parade field where Oktoberfest will once again be held.


Oktoberfest 2010 is almost here.

The familiar calls of the Army's "Hooah!" will give way, at least temporarily, to the strains of "Oompah!" as the sounds, smells, tastes and fun of Oktoberfest fill Redstone Arsenal's Parade Field on the weekend of Sept. 16-19.

The Ferris wheel will tower over a festival that includes a FestHall Tent where German beers and food will be served alongside the Bavarian music of Terry Cavanaugh and the Alpine Express, a sports tent for watching the weekend's football games, a kids' workshop area, carnival rides and midway games by Modern Midways, lots of craft vendors and exhibits, and plenty of carnival food.

The one thing that will be missing' The muddy walkways and, hopefully, the rain that put a damper on Oktoberfest 2009.

"The big news for us this year is we've done a lot of renovations to the field," said Mark Germonprez, business operations director for the Directorate of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation.

"We've fixed the drainage so that we won't have 'Mud-fest 2010.' We have a concrete area, access roads, pavilions, new fencing and a drainage system. There will not be a problem with drainage even if it does rain. Last year, we actually had to pump water off the field and put out hay, and we still had problems with mud. Those issues are fixed this year."

Of course, Germonprez and his FMWR team are hoping this year's Oktoberfest does come with a full four days of sunny weather. Last year's rain caused a big drop in attendance. This year, if all goes well, there should be upward of 16,000 festival goers at the four-day Oktoberfest.

"We are really hoping to beat records this year. The more, the merrier. We keep it on the same weekend every year so that our repeat customers can put it on their calendars," Germonprez said. "This is a community event that is open to the public. Anyone can access the Arsenal through Gate 10 (Jordan Lane/Patton Road) for all four days."

Drivers onto post must be able to display their driver's license, proof of insurance and registration. Those who have an Arsenal decal are encouraged to enter at other gates due to congestion at Gate 10.

Oktoberfest will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. Sept. 16, with tickets costing $12 for opening night. It will be open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sept. 17 and noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 18, with tickets costing $15; and from 1 to 8 p.m. Sept. 19, with tickets costing $12.

The cost of tickets includes all the rides, parking and entertainment.

It's hard to know what is most popular about Redstone's version of Oktoberfest - the German beer, food and music or the carnival rides and food.

"Everybody has a great time at Oktoberfest. There's something for everyone," said FMWR director Derrick Gould. "This is one of the best and biggest German celebrations west of Germany.

"Kids can enjoy all the rides. The adults can, too, because we have even more adult rides this year than we've ever had. There's a midway for those who like to play games for prizes. The food is great, whether you like our German fare or the carnival foods. And everyone loves it when Terry Cavanaugh and the Alpine Express play the Chicken Dance song."

Friday night and Saturday are the most popular days for the festival.

"We get a lot of people in here on Friday nights after football games. Saturdays are most popular with families, although if you want to have fun without the long lines at rides then Thursday night is the best night," Germonprez said. "Sundays are also pretty popular with families who like to come out after church."

Although Oktoberfest will open Thursday night, the ceremonial keg tapping will take place on Friday at 5 p.m.

"Our sponsors will be there, and we are inviting everyone to come over and participate in the keg tapping," Germonprez said.

New to the festival this year are bleachers that will be strategically placed so that parents can relax and keep an eye on their children as they enjoy the children's rides.

Also new is the addition of two permanent pavilions - a 40-by-120-foot pavilion that will be used for staging the event while a 40-by-80-foot pavilion will serve as the sports tent.

"H.H. Gregg's will set up four big-screen TVs and Knology will be providing the cable service for watching college and pro football all weekend," Germonprez said. "It will be a lot nicer under our new pavilion."

But the festival area that will be most authentic to Oktoberfest will be the FestHall Tent, which will be home to the music of Terry Cavanaugh and the Alpine Express, and German food and beer served by the Arsenal's Soldentenstube.

The festival's featured sponsor is Papa John's, which will be selling pizza to those who favor something other than German food.

Besides H.H. Gregg's and Knology, other sponsors participating will include CycleNation exhibiting all terrain vehicles and motorcycles, Madison RV exhibiting recreational vehicles and Woody Anderson Ford exhibiting new cars and trucks. Home Depot will once again bring its kids' workshop to the festival while Supreme Beverages will be providing German beers, Coco-Cola will be serving up sodas and The Huntsville Times will host an information booth. Other sponsors who will have a presence at the festival are Redstone Federal Credit Union, Fox 54, Verizon and WZYP.

Arsenal police and emergency personnel will work to provide security and safety to the festival area. Volunteers from Butler High School Air Force JROTC, Soldiers and Marines, Community Women's Club and the Sergeants Major Association will assist FMWR employees with various services.

"We pull employees from most of our FMWR facilities and we have a large amount of volunteer support to help us at the festival," Germonprez said.
Germonprez, who visited Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, last year is looking forward to the fun of the Arsenal's Oktoberfest.

"Ours is much more customer friendly," he said. "The one in Germany was very big, but also very, very crowded. You couldn't even get in the FestHall Tent without a reservation. Our Oktoberfest is much more open to all the people and families who come out to have fun."

Besides the German fare and entertainment, the carnival rides and midway ramp up the fun for visitors. And, as an extra bonus, specialty carnival foods will include deep-fried Snickers candy bars, Twinkies and hot dogs. There will be ribs served as well as funnel cakes, snow cones and cotton candy.

"Come hungry and thirsty, and be ready for a good time," Germonprez said.

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