1968 Volksfest featured Mississippi Riverboat, Dixieland Jazz

One of the Volksfest's favorite-and perennial-characters, "Old Pete", plays a little honky-tonk piano for the 1968 Miss Volksfest contest winner Renate Loens, on board the Mississippi riverboat.

The 8th annual Berlin German-American Volksfest, which portrayed the French Quarter of the city of New Orleans, is now a thing of the past, having ended its 17-day run last Sunday at midnight. But plans are now underway for next year's fest. During the Sunday evening drawing for this year's grand prize winner it was announced by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Clary, Volksfest director, that next year's theme city would be Los Angeles, Calif. - the "City of Angels." Los Angeles is Berlin's "Sister City" and will be celebrating its 200th anniversary next year. The deputy mayor of Los Angeles, Joseph M. Quinn, was present during the ceremony, having been sent by the city's mayor, Sam Yorty. Mr. Quinn spoke briefly during the ceremony, expressing the city's gratification and enthusiasm at having been chosen. He remained in the Divided City for several days to begin coordination and planning for next year's event. The "New Orleans in Berlin Volksfest" proved to be the biggest and best in the history of the U.S. Army, Berlin's, sponsoring of these events, the aim of which is to provide entertainment for isolated Berliners while introducing them to a bit of America. Approximately 480,000 persons at- tended the event. During the 17 days a quarter of a million liters of beer were consumed, along with 100,000 typically American hamburgers, 15,000 half chickens and 400,000 bock- and bratwursts. That was enough of the German sausages, laid end to end, to reach from Berlin to Helmstedt, a distance of 110 miles. The "Alpen Express" rollercoaster, one of the most popular of the many rides at the Volksfest, traveled a distance equal to half way around the world. Winner of the Volksfest's grand prize, a Pan American Airways round trip flight for two to New Orleans, with a two-week vacation in the "Crescent City," was 25-year old Miss Helma Kaster, a student of American history and literature at Berlin's Free University. In addition, Miss Kaster and her guest will stay for a night in the governor's mansion at Baton Rouge, hosted by Louisiana Governor John McKeithen. The governor had extended the invitation when he was in Berlin for the opening of the Volksfest. "Miss Volksfest 1968," 18-year old Miss Renate Laems, will also fly to New Orleans aboard a Pan American jet. Miss Laems, who picked the winning ticket during the final drawing, was selected "Miss Volksfest" during a contest early in the fest's run. During the final drawing she also selected second, third and fourth place winners, each of whom received gifts. The annual German-American Volksfest has now become a firmly entrenched part of Berlin summer life. Previous fests have portrayed early Laramie, Wyo.; Santa Fe, N.M.; an early New England village; Sacramento, Calif. in the gold rush days; the Alamo during the struggle for Texas' independence and last year, St. Augustine, Fla.

6 District Days termed success

A Berlin Brigade infantry sergeant helps a young man from a Berlin kinderheim into one of the Volksfest carnival children's rides. Such trips have been a favorite feature of the festival for many years.

The Olympia Brass Band-one of New Orleans' last and greatest old-time street bands- leads a parade through the streets of the "French Quarter of Dahlem"

One of the outstanding features for Berliners at the 8th German- American Volksfest has been a series of district days held to recognize the six districts comprising the American Sector of Berlin. Residents of Kreuzberg, Neukoelln, Steglitz, Zehlendorf, Schoeneberg and Tempelhof each had their own district day at the Volksfest with individual festivities. All the districts bought 500 entry tickets to the Volksfest and distributed them to district residents. Some of the districts also arranged for special busses to bring their people to the Volksfest. The district mayors were welcomed to the Volksfest by Brigadier General Samuel McC. Goodwin, Commanding General, Berlin Brigade, and the Olympia Brass Band. The eight Olympians are one of New Orleans' last old-style marching bands and regularly play at parades, weddings and funerals, as well as club dates. After following the Olympia Band through the recreated streets of the Crescent City, General Goodwin, the mayor, and their party arrived at the outdoor stage. Following brief remarks, General Goodwin presented each mayor with a specially minted medal commemorating the Volksfest. The mayor then made his own remarks and presented the general a gift from his district. Each of the district days featured a variety show with regular Volksfest acts and entertainers from the district involved. This included a Kreuzberg mandolin group, the Schoeneberg Music College Band and a children's singing group from Steglitz. At the end of the show, General Goodwin escorted the mayor and his party to the main tent where they had refreshments and enjoyed more of the Volksfest entertainment.

Dixieland Band Big at Volksfest

"I like any kind of music when it's played well" says the man in the straw hat and red vest. "But Dixie-land is the most fun. Everybody gets a chance to solo. And the music is just plain happy! It is not unexpected that the man would say that, for he is Air Force Chief Master -Sergeant Donald Kraft, top NC0 in the USAFE band and leader of the band's Dixie-All-Stars, Trading for a time his Air Force blue for the gaudy costume of hot jazz, Sergeant Kraft has been leading his group of five fellow Dixie-land fans on a highly successful tour to Berlin's 1968. German-American Volksfest which of course, is featuring New Orleans this year and most particularly the Crescent City specialty: jazz! Joining clarinetist Kraft in making the old-time sound are Technical Sergeant Donald Epstein, trombonist from Los Angeles; Technical Sergeant Don Martyn, bass player from West Virginia; Technical Sergeant Carl Davison, drummer from Detroit; Sergeant Terry Dorsey (no relation, sorry) trumpet man from Henderson, Texas; and Sergeant Don Cardoza, pianist from San Francisco. These six men have been one of the mainstays of the 1968 Volksfest, providing the real New Orleans sound to the record-breaking crowds in attendance. Although they obviously enjoy Dixieland, the All-Stars are also regular members of the USAFE band headquartered in Wiesbaden and under the direction of Major Edward V. D'Alfonso. Sergeant Kraft, for example, is also lead clarinet in the concert band and director of the dance band. Like most top service groups, the USAFE band is kept very active, playing as many as 55 separate dates in a year and visiting 27 countries in just the last two years. In their travels they have found that the old cliche about music being the inter- national language is true. Particulary Dixieland, Sergeant Kraft added proudly, and Glenn Miller-style swing. Everywhere you go they get the biggest hands. From the musically sophisticated Austrians to the relatively exotic Tunisians, it's the same thing. "It's not, of course, because it's necessarily better music," he went on, "but because of what I said before: it's a happy music. It's fun to play and fun to listen to." Asked about the difference between Dixieland as his group plays it and that played by Europeans, the sergeant pointed out that the Europeans tend to go back to old records from the days when it was the only kind of jazz and imitate the exact sound-even to the old-time drums and tinny symbols. The American trend has been a gradual development of Dixieland, not as rapid as in progressive jazz, for example, but with new arrangements and some new sounds. This, he explained, is why European Dixie- land sounds a little odd to Americans used to it played in the style of, say, Bob Crosby. Sergeant Kraft also commented on the difference between band music inside the service and out: "In the first place, how many really good bands are there outside the services? Beat music has squeezed an already tight field and so there just aren't very many bands of the kind I'd like to play for. The sergeant, a 30-year veteran of band music who has played with men like Jack Teagarden, Charlie Spivak and Meredith Wilson, knows what he's talking about. "Besides that, in the service you get a chance to play any kind of music you CAN play. It's the versatility I like so much. We play classical music, Sousa marches, dance numbers and swing and, of course, Dixieland. "I don't like to be restricted in what I can play. I don't like for the music to get dull. The Air Force bands are very good and, structured as they are, I get a chance to play more, and play more different things." We could have talked further, but Sergeant Kraft had to leave for the Volksfest outdoor stage, there to lead his group in more of their "happy music," to the delight of the huge crowd waiting.
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