Germans and Americans toast friendship at Wiesbaden festival
By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 29, 2017
WIESBADEN, Germany — The ceremonial tapping of a beer keg to the sound of a traditional Bavarian drinking song marked the official opening of the 2017 German-American Friendship Fest at the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s Hainerberg housing area.
Some 150,000 visitors are expected over the festival’s six days, said USAG Wiesbaden commander Col. Todd Fish. More than 125,000 people streamed through the gates at last year’s five-day-long event.
“The reason why we do this every year is to open up the doors and let our local host nation community come on post and get a taste of what America’s like, and also for our family members who might not go to all the fests around here to see what it’s like,” Fish said.
The fest runs through July 4. It will culminate in a massive fireworks display open to all on the night of the Fourth.
Security will be tight, Fish said, with mandatory bag checks and more roving patrols and plainclothes military. German officers will also be deployed.
One of the major attractions at this year’s event, which will feature food and drink and dozens of new rides and attractions, is the Daemonium. Described by Fish as the largest mobile haunted house in Europe, it certainly passes the eyeball test, with a fortresslike facade that towers over other rides.
Wiesbaden Mayor Sven Gerich, who aided Fish in tapping the ceremonial keg, said he was pleased the fest had established itself as an annual event.
Col. Todd Fish, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, speaks to visitors at the opening of the 4th annual German-American Friendship Fest on the Hainerberg housing area in Wiesbaden, Thursday, June 29, 2017. Fish and Wiesbaden mayor Sven Gerich officially declared the fest open after tapping a ceremonial keg of beer.
DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES