By Ignacio "Iggy" RubalcavaJune 7, 2013
Mixing fun with learning is nothing new but Baumholder took that concept one step further by creating a festival atmosphere with free food, drinks and entertainment for the more than 1,000 visitors at this year's EXPO and Safety Stand Down Day May 24.
The smell of grilled steaks and German wurst wafted into the festival tent as Lt. Col. Mike Sullivan, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder commander, introduced the concept of EXPO. "So what is the EXPO? That's been the question for five months now at Baumholder. It's a chance for not only us in Baumholder to let everyone know what we have in our community, but gives support to our German neighbors to highlight what they have to offer outside of the fence here in Baumholder," said Sullivan.
EXPO spanned not only the parking lots in front of the Hall of Champions and Wagon Wheel Theater but it also included dozens of exhibits and demonstrations inside the hall. "
"We had more than 90 participants at this year's EXPO," said Will Luna, EXPO's event coordinator. "Considering the weather, we had an excellent turnout for this year's event," said Luna.
Participants in this year's EXPO ran the gamete of everyone from Army Community Service, to every MWR agency on post, the bank and credit union, the Scouting program and more. One unique participant was the Joint Multinational Training Center with their display of training aids that included things like explosive laden vests, camouflaged explosive devices, alarms, training mannequins and more -- everything the Soldier would need to know to help him survive on the battlefield.
Integrating the German communities provided a new dimension to this year's EXPO. Soldiers and families were able to learn about the many recreational opportunities and unique locations in the region and in turn, the representatives of the local communities were put more in touch with the American community. One over arching observation by the townspeople was the friendliness of Americans and their willingness to learn about Germany and specifically what the local region has to offer.
Each year, EXPO organizers judge the participants and decide who came up with the best display. This year, with the inclusion of the German communities, a new category was created. Winning for the best German display was the community of Nohfelden. The Hilltop Theater took the award of Best Small Organization and the Baumholder Health Clinic was named the Best Large Organization. They all received certificates of appreciation and the clinic took home the Grand Champion Traveling Trophy.
Commenting on the USAG Baumholder Garrison Facebook site after the event, Sullivan said, "It was incredible to see so many of you there, along with all of our wonderful garrison agencies and partners. A heartfelt thanks to our local German communities who were there to highlight everything their wonderful towns have to offer us as well. Once again, The Rock set the standard and truly showed USAREUR what right looks like."