100,000 rally at this year's German-American Volksfest
August 15, 2012
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Mixing the best of both worlds, the 55th Annual German-American Volksfest provided a taste of home and the foreign for both German and American revelers, here, Aug. 3-5.
Fest-goers could feast on barbecue ribs, langos, chili dogs, wurst and kraut, cheeseburgers and gummi bears. They could buy cowboy hats and Bundeswehr caps, and pass the time riding an electric bull and winning beer steins. Hip-hop blared near the automotive display, while an oompah band oompahed merrily inside the beer tent.
This was the first year Fallon Jackson, a spouse, attended the German-American Volksfest. The event, said Jackson, reminded her of the much-celebrated Nuremberg Volksfest, but it was the grub that set the two fests apart.
"It's got a variety of food from American to Chinese to good ol' German schnitzel!" she said.
The volksfest began at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, with words of welcome from both Col. James Saenz, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr commander, and the Grafenwoehr Mayor Helmuth Waechter.
Following the ribbon cutting, the first guests marched behind the traditional German band in a parade toward the beer tent, where they nibbled on bread and cheese as everyone waited for the keg to be tapped.
After Saenz, wrapped in an apron, did the honors, the beer started flowing and the festival got underway.
The purpose of the German-American Volksfest is to strengthen the relationship between the military community and its surrounding villages. The mayors of Grafenwoehr, Vilseck and surrounding communities, along with Bundeswehr and U.S. commanders, and local German and American officials, supported by the Regional Rose Princess, rallied to help cut the ribbon, tap the keg and enjoy the celebration.
Showcasing this local connection between Germany and America was the Flying Boots, a line and square dancing group from Eschenbach, a town five miles northwest of Grafenwoehr.
Dressed in cowboy hats, cowboy boots and jeans, this troupe of Bavarians showcased country-western line dancing to American songs such as The Bloodhound Gang's "The Bad Touch."
The nearly 100,000 people in attendance at this year's volksfest found entertainment in carnival rides, shooting games and bumper cars. Live German music continually pumped through the beer tent while the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent hosted a new live band each night.
The most jaw dropping spectacle was the Geschwister Weisheit tightrope troupe. The group of 11 siblings performed stunning feats of bravery and skill for a bewildered audience.
Male members of the troupe raced motorcycles, precariously balanced on high wires 40 meters above the ground, while their sisters, attached to the motorcycles by a swing, dangled below them, contorting themselves in acrobatics.
Alexander Weisheit opened the show with a daring display of gumption. After scaling a 62-meter sway pole -- the tallest of such poles in the world -- Alexander performed handstands and played "Amazing Grace" on a trumpet while balancing dangerously atop the narrow pole.
When he finished wowing the audience at such great heights, Alexander zip lined down the 40-meter high wire, holding on only with his teeth.
"To be honest I didn't expect to see much more than a few people walking on a tight rope," said excited audience member Aly Sonnenfeld. "Seeing Alexander doing a one-armed handstand on top of a 60-meter poll was jaw dropping. I was utterly amazed at their talent, strength and bravery. I hope I get the chance to see them again!"