FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Soldiers, Families and retirees took in the early autumn weather at the 4th Annual Volksmarch at Fort Bragg's Smith Lake, Oct. 15. The march was held at the north side of the picnic area, providing a scenic view for participants.

Volksmarch, meaning "people's march" in German, is a form of non-competitive walking that originated in Europe.

"The volksmarch has its history in Germany," said Steve Johnson, a Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation intramural sports coordinator. "It's essentially an enjoyable walk where the local people can enjoy the autumn scenery."

The volksmarch, hosted by the FMWR, began at 9 a.m. with a 5-kilometer walk.

"We anticipated 500 paid registrants for the volksmarch," Johnson said. "With their children, were expecting close to one thousand participants to attend."

Families such as Capt. Brian S. Adams, a veterinarian from the 248th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Services), along with his wife, Lindsey and daughter, Andrea, enjoyed their first Fort Bragg volksmarch.

"My wife and I both have German heritage. The atmosphere is friendly for the walk and the Bavarian band looks good," said Adams, a Lake Park, Iowa native.

Several activities for adults and children were held during the volksmarch.

"We hosted a doggy costume contest, a pie eating contest, Bavarian band performance, face painting, pumpkin decorating, hayrides and bouncers for the kids," said Karen White, FMWR chief of sports and fitness.

The winner of the first of two pie-eating contests was Staff Sgt. Arturo Duron, a squad leader and dental specialist in the 257th Dental Company (Area Support).

Duron, an El Paso, Texas native, said this was his first Volksmarch on Fort Bragg and his prize was a one-night stay at a cabin on Smith Lake.

One of the winners at the Halloween dog costume contest was 1st Lt. Ian Jones, an executive officer with the 919th Engineer Support Company, and his wife, Kaitlyn. Their dog, Marshmellow, won most creative dog costume dressed as "Hairy Pawtter," a play on words from the book and movie character Harry Potter.

"The costume idea came from my wife," said Jones, an Olympia, Wash. native. "She's a really big Harry Potter fan."

Participants at the volksmarch were treated to traditional German music played by the Bavarian Brass Band of Fayetteville.

According to the band's conductor Bill Howard, a retired Navy master chief petty officer and Fayetteville native, it was the band's third time playing at the volksmarch.

"We're also playing at this year's Fort Bragg Oktoberfest," Howard added.

The Fort Bragg veterinary clinic was also involved in the festivities and they brought dogs and cats to the event in order to help find a home for them.

"We have five dogs and eight cats here," said Mary Lou Ortiz, facility manager for the Fort Bragg Animal and Adoption Facility. "But we average 30 cats and 20 stray dogs at our facility."

According to Ortiz, the goal of their efforts at the volksmarch was to find homes for the animals, provide education on caring for animals, inform the public of prohibited breeds on Fort Bragg, and provide information on spay and neutering services provided by their clinic.

"They (the vet clinic) support us at all our special events," White said. "They let folks know what services the clinic provides."