Opening of the 56th Annual German-American Volksfest

Opening of the 56th Annual German-American Volksfest
Berlin, July 21, 2017
CDA Kent Logsdon

Herr Wollenschlaeger, District Mayor Angelika Schöttler, [TBD: Member of Berlin House of Representatives], Marcus Thieme,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to celebrate with you the opening of the annual German-American Volksfest.

For 56 years, the Volksfest has brought Americans and Berliners closer together.  It has become a part of the Berliner Sommermärchen.  Like the city of Berlin itself, the Volksfest has seen a lot of history and also many changes.  The first German-American Volksfest was co-sponsored by U.S. military stationed in Berlin.  It took place in the summer of 1961, at the height of the Berlin Crisis.  The situation was tense but the Volksfest went on – right through until its planned closing on August 13, the day the first bricks of the Berlin Wall were laid.

The political situation obviously over-shadowed that first Volksfest; but year by year, the festival took on a life of its own, even when the U.S. military went home.  And the fact that the Volksfest has lived on is proof of the very special connection between this city and the United States.  Berlin has changed and continues to do so, but the Volksfest remains as a celebration of the strong friendship between Germans and Americans.  I thank all those who once again have made this annual celebration of our friendship possible.

The success of the Volksfest depends on the support of many people.  To the City of Berlin, to the Volksfest’s sponsors and to its many, many fans, thank you for your commitment to the partnership between our two countries.

And last but not least, thank you Thilo Wollenschläger.  Your father would be proud that the great festival he helped to create is still going on strong – 56 years later.  To you and your team, all the best for a great Volksfest 2017.

As in years gone by, the Volksfest will once again give Berliners a chance to have a great time, to savor the taste of some typical American food specialties.

One event to look forward to is an ice cream competition that our Embassy is co-sponsoring on August 12.  Regional ice cream makers will be provided high quality U.S. ingredients, such as prunes, walnuts and pistachios from California, dried cranberries from the northern part of the United States, and sweet potatoes from North Carolina.  From these ingredients, German ice cream makers will be challenged to create the most delicious ice cream flavor – a true merging of American and German foods and culture.  And what a great way to learn more about the U.S. and our 50 states.

This year we are drawing special attention to the great city of Los Angeles.  This year is the 50th anniversary of the LA-Berlin sister city partnership.  Both LA and Berlin stand for creativity and the freedom that innovation depends upon.  Both cities have inspired the world.  Their city partnership is another great example of German-American friendship.

Again, I know the Volksfest has lots of fans.  I hope that this year it will attract many new fans and that even more Berliners will come out to have a great time and to discover America.  The Volksfest is a part of the story of Berlin of which we at the Embassy are very proud.  Our very best wishes to the organizers of the 56th German-American Volksfest.   And to all Berliners – all the best for a great Volksfest 2017!   Have fun!