October carnival starts today at Messeplatz

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Kaiserslautern’s traditional October carnival starts at 6 p.m. today at the Messeplatz fairgrounds and continues through Oct. 25.

In March 1571, Emperor Maximilian II granted the city of Kaiserslautern the right to hold two cattle markets each year. Traveling show people came to the traditional market, which soon turned into “Maikerwe” (May carnival) and “Oktoberkerwe” (October carnival). Since World War II, the “Lautrer Kerwe” (Kaiserslautern carnival) with about 200,000 visitors is the biggest folk fest in the West Palatinate.

Spread out on 40,000 square meters, the fest features a carnival with rides, tents, food and candy booths, and about 140 vendors.

Deputy Mayor Dr. Arne Oeckinghaus officially opens the fest by tapping the first keg of beer at 6 p.m. today in the bistro tent.

Several new attractions will lure visitors. They include a ride called “Millenium,” which takes passengers 26 meters into the air and “Airwolf,” which is a three-dimensional air spectacle. “Magic” and “Breakdance” bring riders up to speed. Visitors of the “Adventure Shuttle” explore a simulated adventure program. The “Green Hell” is the world’s biggest transportable giant Ferris wheel that also offers some creepy fun.

Children can ride ponies, mini-scooters and several merry-go-rounds. The “Jungle Train” takes them through a jungle with wild animals.

In the shopping street, vendors sell a variety of merchandise such as dishes, curtains, leather goods, jewelry, spices and more.

Carnival-goers find refreshments in several beer gardens, tents, bistros and food booths. The bistro tent offers food specialties along with an entertaining musical program every night. The “Eiscafe” serves ice-cream, coffee and cakes and other goodies.

The chicken tent is known for chicken and ham hocks. Food booths offer bratwurst, fish brötchen, shish kebab, waffles, potato pancakes and hot chestnuts. Favorite candy items are sugar sticks, cotton candy, sweet popcorn, roasted almonds and peanuts.

Family Day, with reduced prices for rides and special sales, is Wednesday.

The carnival is open from 2 to 11 p.m. weekdays and from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

Traditionally, the stores in down-town Kaiserslautern are open from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Fireworks displays are lit for the opening today after darkness and to close the event Oct. 25.