Hansen Fest brings Okinawa residents, service members together
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Okinawa residents, service members and their families gathered for Hansen Fest Sept. 5 aboard Camp Hansen.
With more than 13,000 people in attendance, the annual, two-day festival serves as a way to improve upon the already strong relationship between Camp Hansen and the local community through food, games and live entertainment.
“Hansen Fest is a chance for the local community to come in and feel like they are (visiting) America,” said Mark L. Roberts, the deputy camp commander of Camp Hansen. “It is the best thing we can do to foster camaraderie between (service members) and the local community.”
The Camp Hansen gate must function as a two-way street, according to Roberts, a Beaumont, Texas, native.
“When Okinawa residents can come onto the camp and get to know service members, they are able to interact with service members and get to know them on an actual personal level,” said Roberts. “Whether it’s coming on base to buy some pizza or enjoying American music, it is important for base personnel to build camaraderie with Okinawa residents on every level.”
During the festival, attendees had the opportunity to eat in the food court, peruse food stands, play carnival games for prizes, ride carnival rides, explore static displays of tactical vehicles and equipment, and enjoy live entertainment.
They come here to enjoy a taste of American culture, according to Takayuki Kayo, the community relations specialist for Camp Hansen.
“There are young, middle-aged and elderly people enjoying food and drinks, and engaging in the activities,” said Kayo. “Everyone is having a good time.”
Events such as these always draw large crowds because it provides Okinawa residents with the opportunity to learn firsthand what life inside the base is like, according to Kayo.
As the sun set, the bands Madison Rising and Shinedown took the stage, drawing the audience in for back-to-back live concerts.
“The concerts always draw a large audience,” said Kayo. “Okinawa residents love listening to American music so everyone enjoys coming to the live shows.”
For more information on upcoming festivals and events, visit: www.mccsokinawa.com.