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Final Fort Bliss Oktoberfest wraps up; celebrations are bittersweet
By: Gina Benitez
FORT BLISS, Texas
It's the end of an era, as the final Fort Bliss Oktoberfest winds down.
Three days of authentic German food and fun comes to a close and many can't help but feel a mix of emotions.
The beer flowed, the music played and the authentic German eats were scarfed down.
"People are friendly, the environment is terrific, and you're missing out if you're not here," said Daniel Portillo.
This is Portillo's third year attending and the German culture is close to his heart.
"I'm going back in December. I visit regularly during the summer and winter. So it just feels nice to kind of experience home. A second home," Portillo said.
But the celebrations today were bittersweet.
"We're here from Dallas, Texas. We came down here for Oktoberfest. We heard it's going to be the last one here so we had to be here," said Gabriel Mendiola.
"(I'm) nostalgic, a little sad, and I think it differentiates between each individual," Portillo said.
The 41st annual Oktoberfest on Fort Bliss will be the last Oktoberfest.
The German Air Force's North American command is pulling out after close to 60 years of operations here.
"To be honest, we are sad because it's the last one. And nobody knows what's next, what happens, where the big party is," said Lt. Col. Kai Dittmar, an organizer of the event.
While there will still be some German presence on post, they won't have the manpower to make an authentic celebration.
"We were sold out this year in a couple of hours. So we had a big crowd in the tent and in the beer garden," Dittmar said.
Organizers say they've gotten more than expected with more than 1,500 people in the fest's final day.
"For sure it's hard to get something similar to this event for next year," Dittmar said.