JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – With the swing of a wooden mallet, the firing of black powder rifles, and the clinking of commemorative steins, the Hohenfels military community kicked off its 49th annual German-American Volksfest May 17, 2023 at the Festplatz across from the airfield.
The last time U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria hosted a Volksfest at Hohenfels was four years prior in the spring of 2019.
Leaders from the Hohenfels military community greeted their host nation community partners as servers hefted several full steins to guests at the fest tent and brought out platters of traditional German cuisine.
As part of his remarks during the opening ceremony, Patrick Rothbauer, the deputy garrison for USAG Bavaria – Hohenfels, thanked the youth brass ensemble from Hohenfels for playing both countries’ national anthems during the opening ceremony. He thanked the black powder shooters from nearby Velburg. He also thanked the local national civilian and military police, the German Bundeswehr, the Bavarian Red Cross for ensuring the safety of the festgoers.
“Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making this year’s festival a success,” Rothbauer said. “We’re looking forward to a great week of fun and German-American friendship, which has been a longstanding tradition here.”
Christian Graf, the mayor of Markt Hohenfels, also spoke during the opening ceremony, where he emphasized how important it is “to strengthen our friendship again.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity to meet the Soldiers, their Families and everyone who ensures that the training operations run smoothly every day,” said Graf, whose remarks were translated for the linguistically mixed audience.
After the speaking portions, Rothbauer and Staff Sgt. Terrell Washington, a Soldier with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center who won a recent strength competition, tapped the kegs as black powder shooters fired ceremonially. Throughout the tent, those who knew the song, or had printouts of the lyrics, sang along to fest mainstay “Ein Prosit.”
Outside the fest tent, the fun was well underway. The scents of candied nuts, grilled fish and German pretzels wafted through the Festplatz as ride operators played popular music and sent children screaming and swinging into the air. Other festgoers lined up to enter a pirate adventure house and a haunted house. Several community members tried their hand at games of chance, shooting a BB gun at targets for stuffed animals or gently lobbing table tennis balls into beer steins. Some Families sat out and enjoyed fest food while taking in the atmosphere of an evening settling over the Festplatz and neighboring airfield.
The 49th annual German-American Volksfest continues through the weekend with special events happening each day. Friday is Family Day, when rides are 50 percent off and children can get glitter tattoos and their faces painted. Saturday and Sunday, several military vehicles from the U.S. Army and German Bundeswehr will be on static display. And on Sunday, there will be guided bus tours of the JMRC training area (9 euros per person and in German only).
To learn more about the festival, including opening hours, musical acts, activities and more, visit the event page here.