By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 5, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Thousands on Fort Rucker were treated to a taste of Deutschland during one of the year's biggest events, but this year's celebration ended with a bang.
Fort Rucker hosted its 15th annual Oktoberfest at the festival fields Sept. 29 where people were treated to German folk music by the Sonnenschein Express, which has become a staple for the installation's celebration, as well as food and fun for people from all over the Wiregrass community.
The festivities kicked off as Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, along with Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander, tapped the ceremonial keg to signal the official start of the Fort Rucker Oktoberfest.
"I've really been enjoying myself with everything they've got going on here today," said Melissa Hadley, military spouse. "We brought the kids out and got to take them on some of the rides, and it's just been a great time.
"I'm always surprised by the size of the events they have on Fort Rucker because they really seem to go all out when they throw these things," she said. "I really do appreciate that they're able to do this for the community here."
Hadley, who made it out to the celebration with her husband, W01 David Hadley, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, and their two children, Donna and Chauncey, said her children loved that they were able to take part in a myriad of activities, including pony rides and pumpkin painting, which Donna said was her favorite part of the festival.
"I liked that I was able to pick out my own pumpkin and paint it whatever colors I wanted to," she said. "That was really fun."
For David, being able to spend time with his family on the installation was the best part of the entire celebration.
"I'm just glad that we don't have to travel far to be able to spend some good family time together," he said. "I think this is something the kids will really remember and I know they're enjoying it, so if they're happy then it makes the whole family happy."
In addition to the pumpkin picking and pony rides, people were also able to take part in a whole host of activities, including carnival rides, bounce houses, bungee trampolines, keg toss, dunking booths and even a car show, which for many was the highlight of the celebration.
Justin Roberts, civilian from Ozark, said his passion is cars, so his entire reason for visiting the installation was to be able to take a look at cars from all over.
"The car show was definitely the big draw for me," he said. "I absolutely love custom cars and I take pride on being able to customize my own car, so to be able to come out and see what others have done to their rides helps to give me inspiration."