Although Carlisle Barracks is 46 years younger than the tradition of Oktoberfest itself, Tom Zimmerman, Carlisle Barracks public affairs officer, said when the barracks decided to begin hosting a fall festival event, Oktoberfest seemed a natural fit.
This year’s event kicks off Thursday at the Army Heritage & Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, in Carlisle. Festivities run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Funds go to Carlisle Barracks Morale, Welfare and Recreation and will be used for things such as trips, fitness equipment in the gym and child and youth programs for service member’s families.
“Pennsylvania has a rich German history, and a lot of our military families and even civilians have spent time in Germany,” Zimmerman said. “So it just seemed to be — it just kind of hit all the right notes with our community. It’s something that brings together something for everyone,” .
As what Zimmerman called a “traditional German salute to fall,” the four-day festival features a wide variety of food and drink. Carlisle Barracks has partnered with Appalachian Brewing Company, Jack’s Hard Cider and Hauser Estate Winery to stock the beer and wine garden. Beers such as ABC’s Kipona Fest, Hinterland Hefe Weizen, War College Ale and War College Wheat will be served in steins.
Oktoberfest is one of the largest annual events at the barracks, and for the first time this year there will be two military bands playing in the music lineup. At 2:45 p.m. Saturday, the 11 members of High Altitude — The Air National Guard Band of the Northeast will take the stage to perform all types of music, from country to jazz.
At 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Six String Soldiers — The United States Army Field Band — will perform Americana, folk, bluegrass and Irish music. The four-member acoustic group features servicemen playing mandolin, banjo, guitar and bass.
Chris Reitman, marketing manager of the Family Morale Welfare and Recreation Directorate of Carlisle, helped to organize the event and said there won’t be a dull moment once the event and music start.
“We have games and contests. When there’s a band playing — obviously there’s change over and we give bands breaks and stuff like that — instead of having dead space, dead air, we do games like stein-holding contests, wife-carrying contests,” Reitman said. “The kids do an apple pie–eating contest. It’s pretty funny. It’s photo ops galore, basically.”
Carnival rides and games will be running throughout the event. There will also be a Volksmarch, or a people’s march, which is a non-competitive fitness walk, and an arts and crafts show will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8 inside the Army Heritage and Education Center.
Another addition to this year’s Oktoberfest is OktoberFEAST the “almost 5K,” presented by the Carlisle Family YMCA, which will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Participants who sign up before Thursday must decide whether to be a human or undead.
Humans will pay a fee of $30 and make their way around the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center and Carlisle Barracks Golf Course while avoiding being “caught” by undead. Undead will pay a fee of $25 if doing their own makeup or $35 to have their makeup done before the race on Sunday. Undead will try to “catch” the human runners before they reach the finish line.
“This is just, you know, a fun event for the whole family,” Zimmerman said. “You know, there’s stuff for kids of all ages. There’s stuff for families. It’s just a nice opportunity to come out, enjoy the weather.”