By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 3, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 3, 2014) -- While millions of people traveled across the globe to attend the 16-day Oktoberfest festival in Munich, Germany, Fort Rucker enjoyed its own taste of Deutschland.
More than 4,000 people attended the installation's 12th annual Oktoberfest celebration Sept. 26 at the festival fields as the smell of bratwurst and sauerkraut filled the air to set the tone for the area's foremost German festival.
The festivities officially kicked off as Russell B. Hall, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker deputy to the commanding general, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, opened the celebration with a few words to welcome the crowds.
"It's great to have this Oktoberfest, and it's a great time to have everyone come out, take time to have some camaraderie and take time to enjoy the festivities," said Hall. "Oktoberfest is all about friendship, and that's something I can say I took away from my time in Deutschland … it was a wonderful time to be with friends, and I see that's what we're doing here and we're carrying on that tradition right here at Fort Rucker."
The festival included a host of activities, including live music performed by Sonnenschein Express, a popular local German band, who enjoyed their sixth consecutive year entertaining festivalgoers with the sounds from the Alpine region to include ringing cowbells, horns and yodeling.
"This was the sixth straight year we have brought this band in to perform, and the crowd always seems to love them," said Brian Jackson, Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation program manager. "We had fantastic weather and everyone really enjoyed this year's Oktoberfest."
Along with the live music, people were also able to enjoy a zip line, pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting, face painting, bounce houses, bungee trampoline and even dunking booth where patrons were able to get a chance at dunking Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, who volunteered their time to take a plunge for a good cause.
"The dunking booth was probably my favorite part," said Jason Graham, Army Family member. "I got to throw five balls to try and dunk the man sitting up there. I got him down on the first try, so it was a lot of fun to see him splash into the water."
The proceeds from the dunking booth went to Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, which is a program that supports the overall quality of life of single and unaccompanied Soldiers on the installation.
Another popular event was the Volkswagen Show N' Shine, which showcased vintage Volkswagens throughout the years. But the biggest hit for many was the food.
"The main thing I love about any Oktoberfest celebration is the food," said George Talreth, Army veteran. "I absolutely love German sausage and bratwurst, so give me any excuse to come out and get some and I'll be there."
Although food and fun was on many people's minds throughout the event, one of the main focuses is to educate people on other cultures.
"I thought this was a great way for people to see that there are different kinds of cultures out there other than their own," said Tonya Strickland, who said her Family has German roots. "I have German in my ancestry and it's nice to be able to see some of the culture shared right here in Alabama. It shows that despite race or anything, people just love to get together and have a good time."