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Public Affairs : 2012 Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest draws huge crowds

By Mike Strasser
Assistant Editor

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 24, 2012) -- True to the spirit of Oktoberfest, this year’s celebration at West Point was a family-friendly festival with more than 1,300 in attendance Sept. 21-22 at Victor Constant Ski Slope.

While Oktoberfest is mostly associated with beer, bratwurst and unusual German outfits, the West Point Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation provided ample amounts of traditional German fare while catering to even the youngest members of the community with a carnival-like atmosphere.

Jordan Talbot, FMWR commercial sponsorship coordinator, said the question everyone always asks is why Oktoberfest is scheduled in September, when the name implies otherwise. The festival is traditionally held over 16 days, beginning late September into the first week of October. It began as a marriage festival in Munich for the crown prince of Bavaria and grew in stature and scope over time—though, sometimes cancelled due to epidemics and war.

In fact, FMWR got it right on the mark, scheduling opening day to coincide with this year’s celebration in Munich, Sept. 22.

“We try to keep it true to what Oktoberfest is all about,” Talbot said. “The real Oktoberfest is much like what we would think of as a carnival held in very large beer halls. Some are more traditional and others much more progressive and modern. In Germany, it is typically very family-friendly.”

The two-day party at the slope featured plenty of music, with four bands—including the West Point Band and the Math Band—performing an eclectic range of tunes. Children enjoyed hula-hooping, pumpkin-decorating, face-painting and aerial acrobatics inside the Bounce House. To keep their energy from depleting, kids powered up on cotton candy and other treats. Support from the West Point Chapter of Daughters of the U.S. Army and the West Point Women’s Club, as well as Child, Youth and School Services and the Arts and Crafts Shop volunteers kept younger attendees entertained while the adults enjoyed some of the other Oktoberfest traditions.

Much like the famous contests held during FMWR’s Polar Fest, there was an eating competition to see who could consume the most apple strudel. One of the more-popular attractions was the Weiner Dog Race, with Ben Asplund and his racing daschund, Rockelford Munch, named the overall winner. The race is sponsored by the West Point Veterinary Clinic. Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Dorman, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Primary Care Department at Keller Army Community Hospital, and his family wore authentic German attire. Dorman, his wife Angelica, and son and daughter, Christopher and Vivian were named “best dressed” and earned the title of Oktoberfest Family.

Attendance on the first night was three times more than the previous year, Talbot said.

“The rain last year had something to do with it, but I really do think it has more to do with how we reserved tables for each department,” Talbot said. “So you saw some tables, like the Chemistry Department, wearing special T-shirts; Keller (attendees) decorated their table. There was a lot of department pride.”

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 2012 Oktoberfest_09.jpg
The West Point Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreations created a carnival-like atmosphere at Victor Constant Ski Slope for the annual Oktoberfest celebration Sept. 21-22. Photos by Mike Strasser/USMA PAO

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A finely-decorated cart held an abundance of treats for kids to power up on as they enjoyed a variety of games and activities during the family-friendly Oktoberfest at Victor Constant Ski Slope Sept. 21-22.

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The Math Band, comprised of faculty and family members from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, opened the festivities Sept. 22 with a set list of classic rock.