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European edition, Sunday, May 20, 2007

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — It won’t be long before Baumholder’s typically subdued city streets are teeming with people and the buzz of a celebration.

More than 100,000 people are expected to drop in on Baumholder when it plays host to this year’s Rheinland-Pfalz Days state fair. The fair, which runs from June 29 to July 1, will spotlight life in the small city and showcase what’s notable about the region as a whole.

Along with the crowds and festivities will be a glut of cars, road closures and detours. Town officials are working out the logistical challenges of playing host.

Such challenges aside, Rheinland-Pfalz Days will give members of the military community a crash course in German traditions and culture. The fair will include hundreds of displays, musical performances and a bounty of food and drink.

“Family members new to community will have a unique opportunity to see what our host nation community is about,” said Kelsy Hustead, a garrison spokeswoman.

The fair will include hundreds of displays, musical performances and a bounty of food and drink.

The U.S. and German militaries will be participants in the event. Among the planned displays is a 1st Armored Division showcase of military hardware. The German Artillery School in Idar-Oberstein will showcase its new Haubitze 2000, the German version of the U.S. Paladin.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Forces Europe will feature its apprenticeship program and the 2nd German Air Force Division is planning a Patriot missile system display.

There are roughly 13,000 Americans living in Baumholder, compared to 4,800 Germans, giving the Americans and the U.S. Army a strong economic presence in town.

Because of that impact, a display of the “American way of life,” featuring a traditional barbecue, will be included in the fair.

“A primary reason that Baumholder was selected as the site for Rheinland-Pfalz Tag is to showcase the close good working and living relationship between the German and American communities,” Hustead said.

The fair will conclude with a long parade through town.

With so much congestion, garrison officials are urging people to stay off the roads during the festival weekend. The gate at Smith Barracks, which is the main entry point to the garrison, will be open only to pedestrian traffic.

Information about travel routes and detours will be posted on the garrison Web site, www.baumholder.army.mil, and on the Baumholder information channel, according to the public affairs office.

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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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