Air Force to Host 19th Oktoberfest

A view of the crowd during the Sunset Stealth retirement ceremony at Heritage Park on Holloman Air Force Base April 21, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel A. Kocin)
A view of the crowd during the Sunset Stealth retirement ceremony at Heritage Park on Holloman Air Force Base April 21, 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel A. Kocin)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE -- The German Air Force will be hosting their 19th annual Oktoberfest celebration at Holloman Air Force Base Sept. 26. The event will be open to the public between 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at the GAF Maintenance Hangar 1, Building 286.

Capt. of Chief Operational Management Ralf Hegmann said Oktoberfest was officially celebrated at Holloman in 1996 and since then has become the largest German event in the United States.

"In Germany, the Bavarians celebrate Oktoberfest for two weeks and always the last week in September and the first week of October," Hegmann said. "Everyone in the surrounding area is invited, from Alamogordo, the Tularosa Basin and Las Cruces."

Oktoberfest began with the Royal Wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810 in Munich, Germany. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event.

Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the event that was celebrated as a festival for Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequent years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest. Today, the Oktoberfest in Munich is the largest festival in the world.

Chief Master Sgt. Frank Schlawin said Oktoberfest is a way to say thank you to the community of Alamogordo for supporting and welcoming them.

"It's a present from the Germans to Alamogordo," Schlawin said. "We would like to say thank you to the community in Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin, it's not a party for the Germans alone. It's a big thank you for the people here and for their friendship."

He said Oktoberfest is mainly celebrated in southern Germany but many European countries also celebrate it by travelling to Germany.

"It's a Bavarian thing. I realize many Americans think Germans wear Lederhosen and that's not true, only some parts of Germany. In the north some Germans actually don't know what Oktoberfest is, not everyone in Germany celebrates Oktoberfest. It's a special event in the south," Schlawin said. "Many people are invited to celebrate in Germany, it's really fun and people from other countries in Europe come. There's a special day for Italian people because there are so many Italians up there it's unbelievable, so each country has a special day."

Hegmann said he is happy to see the German Air Force bring Oktoberfest to the United States because they're bringing back a piece from their country.

"I guess the majority of Germans come from south Germany, they started Oktoberfest and it became a tradition and to bring it to the United States is great so Americans can see a German tradition up close," he said.

Schlawin said the German Air Force has already started prepping the hangar with help from Holloman's 49th Wing.

"We've started prepping the hangar, we're working the whole week to get everything ready like the beer and food," he said. "There's a lot of people involved getting everything ready for Oktoberfest, 253 to be exact, but there are more from the 49th Wing as well."

He said there will be live music from a German band called the Pressather Musikanten and also performing will be the German Schuhplattler from Fort Bliss doing a traditional German dance.

"This year we're going to have a live band, The Pressather Musikanten all the way from Germany. Pressather is a small village in Germany and Musikanten is a German word for people who make music," Schlawin said. "We'll also have the German Schuhplattler from Fort Bliss, they're all Germans and they will perform Bavarian dancing and we'll have some activities for the kids like face painting and a bouncing castle."

The event will have original and authentic German food such as bratwursts, schnitzel, leberkcse as well as soft drinks, wine and Oktoberfest beer. The opening ceremony is Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. with Holloman's 49th Wing Col. Robert Kiebler and German Air Force Col. Armin Havenith opening the ceremony. Last call for the beer taps will be at 10 p.m., the festival will stop serving alcohol at 10:30 p.m.

General admission tickets for Oktoberfest are $14 in advance and can be purchased off base at all Otero County Federal Credit Unions and the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce. Tickets can also be purchased at the GAF Public Affairs Office and German Military Exchange. They can also be purchased at the front gate for $16 on Saturday, Sept. 26 and each ticket includes an Oktoberfest mug and first filling. Children under 16 are free.

There will be four routes from Alamogordo to Holloman.

Shuttle services will be provided with stops at the White Sands Mall, Airport Road at U.S. Highway 70, the old Walmart building, Elks Lodge, Las Ventanas apartments on First Street, Taco Bell on Panorama Boulevard plus more.

For more information on Oktoberfest 2015 visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GermanAirForceOktoberfest.

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