BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Rheinland-Pfalz Days, an annual three-day state fair, kicks off today in Baumholder with music, food and an anticipated slew of out-of-town visitors.

The celebration, which highlights the food, customs and commerce of the region, also means that the small military community of Baumholder will be temporarily transformed into a bustling metropolis.

Some 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the festival, which is one of the region’s major events of the year. Numerous roads have been closed to ease pedestrian traffic. A host of on-base services also will be closed during the weekend.

“If you are coming to the festival, expect some delays and come early to get a good parking spot,” said Ignacio Rubalcava, a spokesman at the Baumholder garrison.

The Army is advising that local residents avoid driving between Friday and Sunday. “Park and walk,” Rubalcava warned locals. “They might be able to leave, but coming back they may not be able to find any parking. Plan ahead.”

Local officials have spent the past couple months preparing for the crowds. There will be hundreds of displays, musical performances and a bounty of food and drink at locations throughout downtown.

The U.S. and German militaries also will participate in the event. Among the planned displays is a 1st Armored Division showcase of military hardware.

On Sunday, the festival will conclude with a parade between noon and 6 p.m. During that time traffic will be at a standstill, Rubalcava said.

For out-of-town visitors, detour signs and police will help route drivers to designated parking areas.

“Again, the best advice is to come early,” Rubalcava said.

Tips for getting around

The main gate to Smith Barracks will close from noon today to 6 a.m. Monday. It will remain open to pedestrians all three days. That is the most significant road closure.L-176, the road at the bottom of the hill from Shooters known as “Shooters Road,” will be closed. The entire stretch from the traffic light at the main gate to L-348, the road leading to Idar-Oberstein, will be closed all three days.Driving in and out of Smith Barracks during Rheinland- Pfalz Days will only be possible via the North Tank Trail Gate or Iron Man Crossing Gate. Both gates will remain open.If U.S. residents encounter a roadblock, specifically at the first turn toward Baumholder when coming from the direction of Freisen on L-348, they can proceed if they identify themselves as U.S. residents by showing their military I.D. to the German police. U.S. residents may also need to show their I.D. when coming into Baumholder on L-169 from the direction of Niederalben, commonly known as the “back road” to Baumholder from Niederalben.Rheinland-Pfalz Days will include stages and activities throughout downtown Baumholder. Festival times are: 3-8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Sunday.

For more information on closures and a schedule of events, go to

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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