By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 12, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As millions across the world celebrated the German festival of Oktoberfest, Fort Rucker hosted its own celebration, complete with lederhosen and plenty of Deutsche tradition.
Thousands came out to raise their glasses and take part in Fort Rucker's 14th annual Oktoberfest celebration at the festival fields Sept. 30.
Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, kicked off the festivities as Gayler tapped the ceremonial keg to signal the beginning of the celebration.
People were also greeted by the familiar sounds of the Sonnenschein Express, who returned for the ninth time to entertain people with traditional German folk music.
In addition to the sounds of Deutschland, the festival included a host of activities, including a zip line, pumpkin patch, bounce houses, bungee trampoline, face painting, pumpkin painting and even a keg toss, where people had the chance to test their strength to see how far they could let the keg fly.
Joseph and Carina Spurlock, both retired military, said that the festival always reminds them of the time they spent in Germany when stationed there in 1983.
"It always takes me back," said Carina. "It's been a while since we've been able to return and I remember our time there fondly, but this is a good compromise for the time being."
"There aren't too many who can party like they do in Munich during Oktoberfest, but it's nice to be able to come out here and get a taste of that again," added Joseph. "The band playing really takes me back."
For others, the festival is an opportunity to sample a different culture than what most are used to in the area.
"We've come out to Oktoberfest here on Fort Rucker for the past few years because it's one of the few places in the area that you can come and get some sense of what it might be like overseas," said David Nichols, civilian. "I know it's not going to be completely authentic, but there are people here who are from Germany that can give you a sense of what it's actually like. It's just a really friendly place to come out, have a good time and share some stories with friends."