When many service members are notified they have been selected for an assignment overseas they may be excited about a variety of things, like the prospect of traveling and experiencing a new culture.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a damper on some of this excitement and limited opportunities to truly experience their host nation. This is true for some service members at Ramstein Air Base, who may have missed the chance to experience an authentic Oktoberfest.
While the annual festival is known world-wide, it is possible many do not know the history behind it and how it came to be the event celebrated today.
Oktoberfest originates from Munich with the marriage of Ludwig I, the future king of Bavaria, and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, Oct. 12, 1810 where celebrations lasted five days. Citizens of Munich were invited to attend the royal wedding, participate in festivities, and watch horse races.
According to the city of Munich’s website the celebration was so popular it was brought back the following year and included an agriculture fair. Many new additions were made in following years including horse races and food and drink vendors. These vendors eventually moved to beer halls in the 20th century.
Today, Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the world pay homage to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The festival is traditionally a 17 to 18-day celebration, ending on the first Sunday in October. Since 1935, the first official event of the festival has been the of the Wiesn landlords and breweries featuring bands and carriages and carts covered in flowers drawn by draft horses. 1950, the mayor of Munich kicked-off the festival by tapping a keg following the parade.
Oktoberfest will be held Sept. 17 to Oct. 3 this year. Members planning to attend Oktoberfest celebrations — locally or across the country — should ensure they have a plan for transportation if drinking alcohol. Members are encouraged to have a plan and use resources available like local cab companies, public transportation, a designated driver, and their immediate supervisor.
Armed Forces Against Drunk Driving is available in the Kaiserslautern Military Community Fridays and Saturdays between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Members should call AADD at 0152-5172-3356 if their original plan falls through.
Oktoberfest in recent years has yielded six million visitors, including Germans and other tourists, and roughly two million gallons of beer.
For more information about Oktoberfest, visit https://www.oktoberfest.de.