Oktoberfest is an annual celebration that occurs worldwide with nearly six million people participating in the 200-year old festivities. Originally held Munich for the commemoration of the marriage between Bavarian Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Oktoberfest has emerged on an international scale, spreading the Bavarian culture and entertainment to all those who wish to partake.
Lt. Col. Andreas Wiechert, German Liaison Officer for Fort Bragg, assigned to the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, continued in the traditions of his country and held an Oktoberfest party here at Fort Bragg, Sept. 21.
“We know, that events like the Oktoberfest are not the main priorities of our work,” said Wiechert during his speech at the party. “Nevertheless, it is very important as well. If we are allied, if we are working together, if we are fighting together, like in Afghanistan, then we should also celebrate together.”
Among the Family and friends invited were other liaison officers, past and present, who live in the Fayetteville area, senators and senior leadership of Fort Bragg.
“It’s a chance for all the liaison officers to come together,” said Charles Powers, a strategic planner who previously served as a liaison officer for the Army, stationed around the world to include Australia. “It’s always an honor and a privilege to see an invitation to Oktoberfest,”
“It’s an eclectic crowd, so many people from all over come to this event,” said Powers, who scanned the crowd to point out people he knew, “Sometimes you have annual friends, and this is the only time I get to see them.”
Understanding the importance of events like Oktoberfest, Powers frequently holds parties for international festivals at his home and invites guests to come and share in the merriment.
Oktoberfest provides that opportunity for people of multiple cultures to meet and greet and to enjoy each other’s company.
XVIII Airborne Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia Vimoto, and Col. Brett Jenkinson, director of the Corps’ G-3, future operations, had the honor and privilege of starting the night’s festivities with tapping the beer keg. Before they opened the beer tap, though, Wiechert provided traditional Bavarian garb to Jenkinson and Vimoto to ensure they captured the whole experience.
“The culture is one of my favorite parts of Oktoberfest,” said Vimoto, “seeing the people dressed in their outfits, the food, the music.” Many guests wore the traditional Bavarian clothing and danced to the live music, played by the German Air Force band, who had flown in just for this occasion. Vimoto believes that Oktoberfest is especially important for German-Americans because it “shows the diversity we have here, celebrating other countries’ cultures.” The children who grow up here in the United States have a chance to “taste” their own history and heritage with these types of events.
Wiechert invited many of his neighbors to Oktoberfest; one of which was North Carolina Senator, Ronald Rabin, who was “excited to come,” and see “people having fun despite the problems our country faces today.”
“No matter how bad things may get, you’ve got to find time to for fun,” stated Rabin. He and his wife enjoyed dancing and the traditional German food, which was prepared and cooked by the wives and friends of the German liaison team at Fort Bragg.
As the night wore on, the singing became louder and the dancing more intense, with band members and dancers alike, standing on top of the tables, playing instruments and bellowing phrases to popular German songs.
“What we are trying to do is bring Munich and its Oktoberfest to Fort Bragg for one evening and let our American friends enjoy the Bavarian atmosphere,” said Wiechert. “And it is always a good opportunity to say “thank you” to all the invited guests for the support of the German Army liaison team, for all the work, for the comradeship and friendship.”