KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The sounds of cash registers and customers' chatter mixed with cutters swiping fabric and speakers pulsing salsa music gave art enthusiasts reason to celebrate.

Even before the official March 15 opening of the Kaiserslautern Arts and Cultural Center, people at U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern were coming out to the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daenner Kaserne to shop, said Ed Codina, the center's director. The garrison's directorate of Families, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, opened the doors in early March, followed by a two-day grand opening event.

The store for fabric, supplies and notions -- the tools and materials used for quilting and fine arts -- is the anchor of the new center, Codina said.

"We can offer the best fabrics store in all of MWR Europe," he said, estimating the number of fabrics available. "I would put it in the hundreds."

They are what Codina calls state-of-the-art fabrics -- the latest styles coming from quilt and trade shows, top manufacturers. And customers were thrilled to see them arrive.

Ernie Gilgore, an avid quilter and knitter, said the new center fills a gap for art enthusiasts.

"There's nothing around anymore," she said, proudly showing one of her hand-crafted sweaters. "I'm German. We had to learn (knitting) in school."

The opening also included impromptu salsa lessons and an exhibit displaying the works of a number of local artists. Crystal Malloy, an artist and recreational percussionist who had several works on display for the grand opening, is a garrison employee. She hopes the community welcomes the center's cultural aspects.

"I think it's fantastic. Things are successful when you, one, have space available and, two, people show up," Malloy said "A whole lot of stuff can happen here."

While classes are not immediately available, Codina hopes customer demand opens doors for classes once offered at the now-closed Heidelberg center. Some types of activities Codina discussed include framing, ceramics, fine arts, quilting, scrapbooking, sewing and photography.

"We're starting out small. We want to engage the community and then, as the community begins to disclose its interests, we can plan how that's going to go," he said. "I believe in customized customer service."

The new center in building 3109 on Daenner Kaserne. For more information call DSN 483-6509 or civilian 0631-411-6509.