AhhhAca,!A|the alluring smells coming from a mixture of bratwursts searing on hot coals; schnitzels getting deep-fried to perfection in hot vats; sauerkraut simply simmering; festive music, rides, games, and kids stuck on a wall' No, itAca,!a,,cs not a dream, it is some of the many sites Soldiers and family members could take part in during Fort HoodAca,!a,,cs annual Oktoberfest located at Fort Hood Stadium, Oct. 23.
The gates to Hood stadium opened at 5 p.m. and already hundreds of Soldiers, civilians and family members flooded onto the field to be a part of the German-inspired festival.
Protected by bier maidens, Brig. Gen. Peter Atkinson, Deputy Commanding General Canada, promptly kicked-off the ceremony at 5:30 p.m. with his inspiring prost and the most anticipated ceremonial tapping of the keg. Atkinson and a bier maiden pumped a frothy brew into a half-liter glass and drank the first official beer of the night.
Aca,!A"Today is truly a good day to come together, relax, and have fun,Aca,!A? said Atkinson. Aca,!A"LetAca,!a,,cs kick things off right and have some fun.Aca,!A?
Oktoberfest originally started off in Munich, Germany as a celebration of the marriage between King Ludwig I and Princess Therese, but through the years this festival has made its way over the oceans, across the mountains and into Texas.
Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre always doing things bigger and better,Aca,!A? said Angela Anna Oakley, Fort HoodAca,!a,,cs family and morale, welfare, and recreation directorate. Aca,!A"Everything in Texas is unique, so we have to put a Texas spin on it.Aca,!A?
Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre going to try to do some things that the people in Germany havenAca,!a,,ct even thought of,Aca,!A? Oakley said. Aca,!A"We have a bull ride; I can guarantee they are not riding bulls over there.Aca,!A?
Typically, the German Oktoberfest centers on large beer tents supplying the many festival goers with large quantities of beer. However, the Fort Hood Oktoberfest was not based on alcohol consumption. Although a beer tent was provided during the festival, beer wasnAca,!a,,ct the main focus for the event.
Aca,!A"Oktoberfest is a fun event for all ages,Aca,!A? said Kelsey West, public relations coordinator for the Fort Hood FMWR. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre trying to appeal to everyone, adults and the little kids, even the single Soldiers. We just want everyone to come out because we have a little something for everybody.Aca,!A?
Capt. Rusty Morris, aid to Brig. Gen. Atkinson, explains how Oktoberfest is a good time to come together and celebrate the change in the seasons.
Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs nice to come out with your families now since the weather isnAca,!a,,ct so hot. There are lots of good food, fun stuff, and even a great band,Aca,!A? Morris said.
The band, the Sophisticates, is comprised of Rick Viator; singer, Sheri OAca,!a,,cBrien; singer, Dax Robertson; pianist, Jason Wintermeyer; guitarist, and Daniel Yanez; dummer. The Sophisticates are a variety group who played throughout the night keeping the audience energized and wanting more. The band primarily plays at private events but can be found performing at Cool River CafAfA in Austin a couple times a month, said Viator.
In between the sets for the band, eager participants awaited the Bier Stein Strongman Competition.
Aca,!A"The Bier Stein Strongman Competition is definitely a test of wills and strength,Aca,!A? said Oakley.
During the competition, participants had to fully extend both arms without bending their elbows holding two full liter mugs and the last one to hold their arms out the longest wins. Denva Aca,!A"DionAca,!A? Griffin, a winner from last year, entered the first strongman competition and won again.
Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs nice to come out here again and win,Aca,!A? said Griffin. Aca,!A"Besides the competition, I enjoy coming out here with the family and enjoying the food and music.Aca,!A?
Oktoberfest 2009 consisted of 26 booths and 17 different family readiness groups raising money for their organizations. Aca,!A"There were several sponsors that gave toward the event but without sponsors we couldnAca,!a,,ct do this even free year after year,Aca,!A? said Teresa Maynor, the commercial sponsorship coordinator for Fort Hood FMWR. Aca,!A"We depend on the sponsorships to offset the costs.Aca,!A?
Harris Jewelry located in the Killeen Mall, a sponsor of Oktoberfest 2009, gave $2,000 this year to assist with the costs.
Aca,!A"Sponsoring the Oktoberfest is a good thing to do, weAca,!a,,cre all about taking care of the Soldiers,Aca,!A? said Victoria Roth, store manager. Aca,!A"Oktoberfest is something special. I know there is some anticipation of some groups coming back. So itAca,!a,,cs exciting for everyone to get together, enjoy the evening and bring in the new season.Aca,!A?
The night is still young, but now, bellies are full with beer, sausage and schnitzel, Aca,!A"CJAca,!A? the bull has bucked off the last contestant, the keg is untapped, kids are pried off the Velcro wall and packed into their respective family cars and now, Oktoberfest 2009 has officially come to an end.