Keg tapping ceremony a thank you to garrison friends, supporters
October 12, 2012
Fort Belvoir officials thanked supporters and friends of the post with traditional German food, music, beer and fun during the ceremonial keg tapping event Friday, part of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's 17th annual Oktoberfest celebration on Freemont Field.
More than 120 guests attended the VIP invitation-only event, including Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, commanding general for the Joint Force Headquarters, National Capital Region/Military District of Washington; Army Reserve Ambassador for the Commonwealth of Virginia Ron Adolphi and Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
"This is the best part -- this is what Oktoberfest is all about," said Stewart, who has attended the keg tapping event for the past five years. "But more than that, it's all about keeping good friends and making new ones."
Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson and Command Sgt. Maj. Chester Grelock, donned aprons and swung mallets into kegs of Spatenbrau beer, with the help of German military guests Brig. Gen. Hasso Kortge and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Kleinhenz, signaling the official start of Oktoberfest 2012.
Before tapping the kegs, Gadson gave special thanks to the German military members in attendance. "This is our opportunity to thank you and your command for the support you have given Oktoberfest 2012," Gadson said. "Our partnership continues to grow in this new millennium, and it's our hope that it will continue to grow in the years to come."
He also thanked the event sponsors by asking them to stand and be recognized.
Kortge added that the keg tapping event is a great way for German and American military members to get to know each other.
"For us, celebrating Oktoberfest together is just a picture of how good our cooperation is on a day-to-day basis," he said. "We work here together in peacetime, and in other areas like Afghanistan, we're working shoulder to shoulder in our war against terrorism. This is how we get together, work together, get to know each other -- and that's very important so we can operate together."
The German Military Band provided music for the ceremony, including classical German pieces and Bavarian Oktoberfest tunes. A small ensemble even played in the middle of the crowd wearing lederhosen. The band normally performs for the Fort Belvoir Oktoberfest event as part of their stateside tour coinciding with German Reunification Day celebrations at the German Embassy Oct. 3.
"It definitely is a great honor and privilege for us to be able to travel to the States and play for our comrades and friends in America," said Burkard Zenglein, conductor.
Following the ceremony, guests helped themselves to a buffet of German "fest" fare including bratwursts, sauerkraut, potato salad and apple strudel, catered by DFMWR.
"This keg tapping is important because it adds a little bit of authenticity to the actual Oktoberfest (event)," said Ryan Moran, acting recreation chief for DFMWR and Oktoberfest event coordinator. "It really brings the United States Army (and) the German Armed Forces together and it really brings it a good kind of unification."
It is also a great way to give back to the garrison partners by inviting them to the event, free of charge, he added.
"The VIPs that are invited to this, a lot of them are partners with the installation -- partners and sponsors. This event couldn't happen without the sponsors that we have," Moran said. "It's really good to get the partners that work with this installation (together) … to show them how grateful we are for their support."