The German Air Force can really throw a good party.
Last weekend the 40th Annual Fort Bliss Oktoberfest, organized by the German Air Force Air Defense Center, pulled out the stops for members of the public and those stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.
“It’s a real good chance to give the Americans something back. There’s a big friendship between America and Germany,” said Lt. Col. Kai Dittmar of German Air Force Air Defense Center and deputy organizer of the Oktoberfest.
The German Air Force Air Defense Center has been stationed at Fort Bliss since 1956. After a few years of longing for Oktoberfest celebrations back home, members of the Air Force recreated their traditional party at the base near El Paso. Since then, they've held one of the best parties in town.
“They feel some sort(s) of home,” said Col. Volker Samanns, Commander of the German Air Force Air Defense Center, speaking of the families who have relocated from Germany to El Paso.
The tradition of Oktoberfest started in Munich as a wedding celebration between Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810. There was a huge turnout—the entire population of Munich showed up—and thus started the yearly tradition.
Now the festivities that traditionally take place from late September to the first week of October are celebrated worldwide.
These celebrations were so authentic that Fort Bliss guests could have mistaken the location for the true Munich Oktoberfest. Many attending were members of the German Air Force and their families. A Bavarian band put on entertainment for dancing – including a wood-chopping dance. Some even showed up in traditional German Oktoberfest attire.
The food included jaegerschnitzel, a breaded pork cutlet with dark gravy and mushrooms; rotkohl (red cabbage); and spaetzle (German noodles).
“It’s authentic food. It’s food we import from Germany just for the Oktoberfest tonight and it’s just like the food you get in Munich at any Oktoberfest in Germany,” said Marco Andresen, event food supervisor.
The beer was flowing even faster than the people into the tent.
Traditional German beer was imported to Fort Bliss served in steins. Lots of shots were available – spouts of Jager were at the bar and endless amount individual bottles of Feigling – a German fig vodka – were taken by guests.
“(We’re) embracing all cultures. And living as one,” said local resident Laura Juarez of El Paso, Texas.
Native German guests felt like they were back in their homeland, but with warmer weather.
“(It’s) the right food and the right beer,” said Markus Zogelmeier. “It’s similar to Munich!”
“It’s better than the one in Germany!” said Jens Sieger.