FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A little over 200 dogs joined their owners for the Third Annual Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Volksmarch held Oct. 16, at Smith Lake recreation area. The event consisted of a 5K or 10K walk through the Smith Lake grounds, music, food, Family fun and games, hayrides and a dog costume contest.

For friends Sylvia Steinkamp, Madhuri Patel and Famtima Butt, the event was just what they needed to get out and about.

"We've been working out together lately and thought this would be a fun event," said Butt, who also brought her little sister, Khadeeja, along for the walk.

"It's nice to see all the German festivities," said Steinkamp. "Also, the free beer stein is real nice.
Each registered participant of the walk received a blue, ceramic beer stein that has the volksmarch's logo embossed into it.

Participating for the second time in a row, sisters Fran Fabian and Sonja Meunier said they enjoyed getting outside and breathing the fresh air.

"We enjoyed it so much last year we decided to spend some more sister time together while getting some exercise in," said Meunier. "It's a very nice, safe area to walk around."

Eight hundred and thirty four people participated in this year's event, a big difference in numbers compared to last year's which saw about 200 participants.

The Volksmarch was expanded to a volksfest due to the cancellation of Fort Bragg's Oktoberfest.
German food was served as the Bavarian Brass Band played German music to the crowd. The children's play area was filled with bounce houses and a huge Velcro wall that children jumped onto and stuck to it in various poses. Families also competed in haystack and pumpkin rolling contests in hopes of winning a trophy topped with a decorative, glittery pumpkin. Families also took a short hayride through the Smith Lake recreation area.

The Fort Bragg Veterinarian Clinic also made an appearance to hand out pet information and free samples. Taste of Wild also handed out free samples of their organic and natural dog food.

Twenty-four dogs dressed up in Halloween costumes competed in the Doggie Costume Contest in which Marshmallow, dog of Kaitlyn and Ian Jones, won first place dressed as Braveheart.

"This was just a great opportunity to take the Family to," said John Thompson. "The kids barely made the walk, but they had fun and stayed busy. The car ride home should be quiet since they'll probably pass out from all the fresh air and activity."