BAMBERG, Germany -- The country-style setting of a family-owned restaurant and biergarten, provided a festive and laid-back atmosphere for the U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg's workforce's annual outing July 2.

Surrounded by natural foliage, live music and grilled food, garrison employees enjoyed a day of scenery and convivial hospitality at the outing site, located in the small town of Liemershof.

In spite of busy work schedules, offices functioned on minimum staffing so that colleagues could attend the annual gala, meant to bring together and celebrate the staff's consolidated efforts to support and enhance Warner Barracks.

The day commenced with a forest hike that dropped participants off at Sportsheim ZAfA1/4ckshut, four kilometers from the outing site. Several groups chose this walking option to start the morning, while others drove to Helmut's HofschAfA$nke via car or bus.

Lt. Col. Gary Rosenberg, USAG Bamberg commander, welcomed attendees.

"I thank you all for taking the time to come out here today," he said. "I want to give a special thanks to the men and women who worked to organize this event."

Command group administrative assistant Lydia Gray aided in the organization of the day, which was prepared by a committee of local national employees. The committee approached HofshAfA$nke owner, Helmut Kann, to request the location a few months before the July date.

Kann's son, Christian, who is preparing to take over the family business, served drinks and exchanged light banter with guests.

"We are used to this size of an event," he said. "The restaurant and room are usually used for weddings, concerts and country festivals. We've been holding events in the restaurant for about 14 years."

The main room of HofschAfA$nke, with soaring ceilings and a natural wooden structure, resembled an enormous rustic lodge.

Approximately 200 guests, including several Bamberg high school students taking part in the post's summer hire program, made for a full and robust crowd.

Lt. Col. Gary A. Rosenberg and Works Council president Hans Graf agreed that the annual outing was an important chance for co-workers to relax together in a non-work environment.

"It is good to have both US and German colleagues together outside the garrison and bring everyone together," Graf said. "Most Americans might not know about a place like Helmut's HofschAfA$nke, which is really off the beaten path."

Though the Works Council made no decisions in arranging the outing, Graf said they offered their services and guidance to the organizing committee.

Laughter erupted as later in the day, staff supervisors, including Rosenberg and Command Sgt. Maj. Bruce A. Lee, competed in a surprise quiz, created by committee members. Testing the competitors' knowledge of U.S. and Bamberg history, Harald Kastner read a variety of questions.

The game ended in a tie-breaker for first place between Rosenberg and Lee, in which they were asked to guess the approximate number of trees on Warner Barracks. Lee took the number one spot with a guess of 2,000, closest to the correct answer of 4,280.

In between games and speakers, the band Duo WAfA1/4rzburg took the stage. The band, comprised of locals Oskar Burger and Robert BrAfA1/4hlen, played a mix of German, American and international music. Attendees sang along to several of the classic pop songs, which included 'Achey Breaky Heart' and 'La Bamba.'

Kastner organized sixteen players into four tables to compete in the traditional German card game 'Schafkopf.' Through single elimination, each table produced one winner and these final four competed for the grand prize, a 50 euro gift certificate to Altenberg restaurant.

Other activities included horseshoes and carriage rides. Attendees feasted on pork steak, bratwurst, grilled vegetables and salad, and were offered a variety of beverages.

Gray commented on the success of the day, particularly noting the increase in the number of American employees participating in the outing. The representation of both German and American workers was a priority, she said, so that everyone felt welcome and connected.