Fort Leonard Wood’s annual Oktoberfest celebration is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 7 at Pershing Community Center, giving visitors a chance to enjoy authentic German food, live music, dancing and activities for all ages. The event is free and open to the public.
The event is making its return to the Pershing center, where it was last held in 2013.
“We moved it back because we wanted to go back to a more intimate venue,” said Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities manager.
“We have a variety of things this year,”  Wilson said. “It costs nothing to get in. The activities for the kids are free. The only thing that will cost anything are the food and beverages.”
Prior to the celebration, the Rolla Roadrunners Volkssport Club will hold its “Fort Leonard Wood Oktoberfest Walk” starting at 2 p.m. at the center. Participants can follow up to a 10-kilometer course at any time during the celebration, but must complete the course by 7 p.m. The event is designed for Families and is open to the public. Children ages 12 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, email RollaRoadrunners@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or contact Elizabeth McCartney at 573.528.2157.
At 3 p.m., the festival opens with the annual keg-tapping ceremony.
“As always, we encourage people to get there early to see the traditional tapping of the keg with members of the Fort Leonard Wood command team,” Wilson said.
Immediately following the ceremony, visitors can enjoy traditional German music by the band Die Spitzbuam, and children can take part in a number of activities in the festival’s Kinderplatz.
“We’ll have several different kids’ activities, including inflatables and interactive games,” Wilson said. “We have a new vendor this year, and I’m told there will be a slide, a bounce house, an obstacle course and more.”
Several contests for adult visitors are also planned, including a Best Dressed Contest at 4 p.m., a Brat Eating Contest at 5 p.m., the annual Barrel Relay/Barrel Toss at 6 p.m. and a Stein Holding Contest at 6:30 p.m.
“We’ll do the Best Dressed Contest for people who show up wearing their dirndl and lederhosen,” Wilson said.
From 7 to 10 p.m., visitors are invited to dance and enjoy music by a professional DJ.
“We want to invite people to stick around. We’ll have a DJ to keep the music going on the patio for continued entertainment, and the event will wrap up at about 10 p.m.,” Wilson said.
Oktoberfest celebrations date back to a German royal wedding held in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig (who later became King Ludwig I of Bavaria) was wedded to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen near Munich. Their wedding celebration was so huge and popular that the party took place again the following year, prompting the start of the traditional German celebration that has become world famous. As immigrants from Germany came to North America, smaller versions of Oktoberfest sprouted up in thousands of communities across the country.
Pershing Community Center is located at 16593 Piney Hills Drive.
For more information about the Fort Leonard Wood Oktoberfest celebration, visit https://leonardwoodmarmymwr.com or call 573.596.6913.