Oktoberkerwe starts today

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Kaiserslautern’s traditional “Oktoberkerwe,” or October carnival, will take place today through Oct. 25. A big amusement park with more than 140 rides and vendors offering their attractions will lure visitors to the Messeplatz fairgrounds.

City representatives will officially open the event by tapping the first keg of beer at 6 p.m. today in the bistro tent. When it’s dark, around 9 p.m., fireworks will be lit to signal the start of the 11-day event.

The history of carnivals in Kaiserslautern goes back to March 1571, when Emperor Maximilian II granted the town of Kaiserslautern the right to hold two cattle markets each year. For this event, travelers came to town, and the traditional “Kerwe,” or carnival, which nowadays is held in May and October, started to develop.

Since World War II, the “Lautrer Kerwe” with about 200,000 visitors today, has the reputation of being the biggest folks fest in the Westpfalz.

Oktoberkerwe will offer a variety of rides for adults and children. “Airwolf” will let riders experience three-dimensional flying, “Alpha 1” will give riders a feeling of zero gravity, and “Magic” and “Flipper” will provide speed and sound.

The rollercoaster “High Explosion” and “The Haunted House” will guarantee some more excitement. Racers can also test their skills on the Europaring race track.
The giant Ferris wheel, the token of each folks fest, will offer a nice view from a height of more than 160 feet.

Children can have fun with skills games, take pony rides, or ride in miniscooters and on merry-go-rounds. The skills booths will offer archery, fishing or throwing cans.

Beer gardens, the chicken tent, and the bistro and wine tent will also lure hungry and thirsty visitors. Palatinate and international culinary specialties such as crispy chicken, ham hocks, crepes, pizza and fish will be sold at the food booths.

The “shopping street” will take visitors on a shopping trip. Until late at night, shoppers can buy a variety of merchandise, including jewelry, clothes, curtains, household items, leather goods, spices, and arts and crafts items.

Wednesday will be family day with reduced prices and special offers until 7 p.m.
To promote the German-American friendship, ride owners will offer a “Dollar Day” on Oct. 22. American customers can pay in dollars and most ride owners will offer a one-to-one exchange. Those ownders who participate will have a purple sign posted on their door.

As a “thank you” to the customers, a colorful fireworks display will take place around 9 p.m. Oct. 25.

The rides will be open from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. each day, and until midnight today and Saturdays. Some food booths and vendors will start selling their specialties and merchandise at 11 a.m. each day.

Traditionally, the first Sunday of Oktoberkerwe, the stores in Kaiserslautern will be open from 1 to 6 p.m.