ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Hundreds of members of the APG and local communities gathered at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center for Oktoberfest festivities Oct. 24-25.
Inspired by the annual celebration in Munich, Germany, APG Oktoberfest serves as an opportunity for Team APG and the local communities to come together as one greater community.
From German food, dancers and beer to fireworks and inflatable games and rides, the event offered free, family-friendly activities for the entire community.
Local vendors lined "Main Street," selling crafts, jewelry and other items throughout the weekend. Hula hoop and jump rope performers entertained attendees, along with a roving accordion player and a stilt walker. And the Edelwiss Band played festive music as dancers in traditional Bavarian garb offered dance lessons to audience members.
The weekend began with an opening ceremony Oct. 24. A Volksmarch and Car Show followed on Oct. 25, with fireworks that closed the weekend with a bang.
Attendees gathered in the Festhalle on the afternoon of Oct. 24 to kick off Oktoberfest during an opening ceremony and covenant signing.
The opening ceremony celebrated the partnership APG has with Bel Air, Aberdeen, Havre de Grace, Edgewood, Harford County and Cecil County.
Capt. Joanna T. Moore, chief of preventative medicine at Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic, served as the master of ceremony and Garrison Chaplain Mark Rendon gave the invocation.
APG leaders in attendance included Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, installation commander, and commanding general of Communications-Electronics Command; Command Sgt. Maj. William G. Bruns, the installation and CECOM command sergeant major; APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton; and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey O. Adams.
Community leaders in attendance included Harford County Council Representative Dion Guthrie; Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett; Cecil County Council Member Diana Broomell; Havre de Grace Office of Tourism Manager Brigitte Peters, standing in for Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty; Bel Air Town Administrator Dr. James D. Fielder, representing the Mayor of Bel Air Dr. Robert R. Reier; and Edgewood Community Council Member Jansen Robinson.
During the opening remarks, Crawford welcomed and thanked those in attendance. He said it is important that Soldiers, civilians and their Families know that their communities support them.
"Keep saying 'thank you' to them," he said.
After Crawford's remarks, APG and local leadership signed the U.S. Army Community Covenant.
"The Community Covenant is an Army program designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families, both at their current duty stations and as they transfer to other states," explained Moore during the signing. "It is a formal commitment of support by state and local communities to Soldiers and Families of the Army."
According to Oktoberfest planner Gwyn Dolzine, the covenant is a symbol of the relationship between APG and the local communities.
"The proving ground has had a wonderful relationship with our local communities and been able to thrive, thanks in part to their unwavering support," Dolzine said.
After the signing of the covenant, Crawford and Bruns tapped the ceremonial Oktoberfest keg, in keeping with the Bavarian tradition, which officially kicked off the weekend's festivities.
Nearly 100 walkers got into the festive fall spirit with a trek around the installation during Saturday morning's Oktoberfest Volksmarch Oct. 25.
Participants received route maps and instructions at the athletic center then took off on their own, leisurely 5K walk.
"It's good to be involved in a few German activities," said Kati Bruley, a U.S. Army Public Health Command civilian who spent a few years in Germany. "It's a beautiful day for exercise."
Constance Nyman, a civilian on temporary duty at APG from the Defense Contract Management Agency -- Syracuse (New York), said she and her friend Philip Murray signed up after she saw the announcement on the marquee.
"I had to pull over so I could read it twice," she said. "We thought it would be fun to do and it is."
Lynn Eskew of Bel Air walked with her mother Marcella Schelhammer who turned 84 the day before.
"She's probably your oldest participant," Eskew said, noting they regularly participate in German-themed fall events. "This was really well organized. It's one of the better Oktoberfests we've been to," she said.
Volksmarchers returned to the athletic center where they received medallions from Byron Reasin, MWR sports lead. Reasin thanked all participants and Volksmarch sponsors, First Command Financial Planning.
Car and Bike Show
An Oktoberfest Car and Bike Show was held at the parking lot on Raritan Avenue from 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct 25.
Car collectors showcased premium condition cars and bikes as enthusiasts eyed their favorites and talked shop with the owners.
Trophies were awarded to the best in show in categories which included antique, classic, imports, street and muscle cars and bikes.
Ted Dolzine entered his orange '74 Karmann Ghia into the "foreign imports" category. Dolzine said he enjoys competing in car shows, but mainly brought his car because he "just wanted to drive it on such a nice day."
APG Oktoberfest festivities came to a close this year with a fireworks display viewed from the recreation center grounds Oct. 25.
Dressed in traditional German clothing, military spouses Carmen Houseman, from Aberdeen and Resi Green, from Abingdon, said they met their husbands while they were stationed in Germany.
"We attended the event to have fun and support APG," Green said.
Maj. Eric Eick, Army Evaluation Command, attended Oktoberfeset with his wife, Joyce Kuwae. Eick, who is part German, said he appreciates that the Army celebrates diversity by hosting cultural celebrations throughout the year.
"Oktoberfest is a fun event," Eick said. "It is important to remember where you came from."