Annual Hanau Bürgerfest will have an American flair
HANAU, Germany — From the first musical note to the fireworks finale, it’ll be a German fair with American flair.
The theme of this year’s annual Hanau Bürgerfest, which runs for three days beginning Friday, is “Hanau and the Americans,” a tip of the hat to the more than six decades of association between the two former adversaries.
Americans “are part of this city,” said Bernd Michel, organizer of the event, which has been held since 1958. “They are part of this community.”
But the U.S. military may not be a part of the Hanau community for much longer, relatively speaking. While no formal announcement has been made, the U.S. military is expected to withdraw all of its remaining forces from the Hanau community by about 2012, according to city officials.
Michel, who works in the city’s cultural office, had thought of using an American theme sometime in the future. However, when word surfaced the Hanau military community would likely close for good as part of a broader Army plan to reposition its forces, Michel decided to go with the theme now.
“If we hadn’t made the theme this year, it might have been too late,” Michel said Tuesday afternoon as he surveyed the fair site.
At its peak in the 1960s, the Hanau military community had more than 30,000 Americans living in the immediate area, said Wolfgang Niebling, spokesman for U.S. Army Garrison Hanau.
Today, that number is about 12,000, and it’s due to shrink further once area soldiers return to Germany after a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq, gather their things and leave for a new duty station a short time later.
This year’s annual fest, held between the Hanau Schloss (castle) and the Main River, starts Friday evening with a performance by the 1st Armored Division Band. Over the weekend there will be a dragon boat race, constant music and food, a high-wire act and all sorts of rides and food booths.
As they have done in past, organizers will have a special display on hand that will expound upon the theme. Even Sunday night’s fireworks display will pay tribute to the United States.
The festival is free. For more information, including schedules, directions and a list of events for children and adults, go to the Hanau military community Web site at: www.hanau.army.mil.