Family fun takes center stage
October 4, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 4, 2012) -- More than 4,500 people attended Fort Rucker's 10th annual Oktoberfest that featured vendors, live music, children's activities and food Oct. 28.
Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, Fort Rucker and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, opened with remarks in German in the main tent during the keg tapping ceremony.
"Welcome to Oktoberfest. The traditional way to begin each year is with the keg tapping ceremony. This is the first year we have participated in this tradition," Mangum said, adding that he hoped everyone had a fun but responsible night.
As people traversed the event, they could fully experience German culture as they heard the native language spoken as much or more than English.
"We need to recognize our cultural diversity. We have a lot of spouses that come from Germany, so it's neat to celebrate all the different types of heritage. We came last year, too. It was great, but there are more activities this year. I love seeing everyone with the traditional garb on," said Dejah Hess, military spouse, adding that she thought the event was a great way for Families to come out for Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Family friendly version of Oktoberfest.
The music and dancing was a focus for many attending the event, including one dancer dressed in a dirndl, Kristin Larson.
"The music is my favorite part of Oktoberfest. It sets the scene and you can get up and dance, even if you dance poorly. The event is really Family friendly. It's important to have Family-friendly events in this area because events like this make it possible for parents to have a fun time with their children, but still have a date night if they cannot find a babysitter," she said.
Organizers of the event were proud that the 10th anniversary of the event went well.
"The turnout has been great! I think it's the most we have ever had at an Oktoberfest, and I can still see more cars pulling in. People come out for the food, live entertainment, drink specials, activities and the dancing. But this year we have a lot of new stuff like the petting zoo, the zip lines and the pony rides. We are always expanding and looking for new things to [bring in]," said Kimberly Abeln, special events coordinator with DFMWR, adding that her favorite thing about Oktoberfest was seeing children in lederhosen as well as "seeing Soldiers out of uniform."
"[I]can see all the Soldiers having a good time, and that makes me feel great. I know I've done it right," she said.
Diverse people from all aspects of life could be seen mingling together at the same table enjoying drink specials and sauerkraut, and the sight impressed one Soldier.
"I like that people from all different parts of the world can come together and fellowship at one table to enjoy each other's company. It gives me hope that one day we can all come together," said Capt. Joshua Sheik, whose last day in the Army was Oct. 29 and added that the night was the perfect way to end his active Army career.