The American Volkssport Association (AVA) celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary in Fredericksburg today. Here is how it all began.
Fredericksburg, Texas, native Kenn Knopp, was visiting his distant relatives in Germany in 1976. He was taken on an afternoon stroll by his relatives to a cemetery where his relatives were buried. The stroll turned out to be a six-mile ordeal. At that time Knopp was very much overweight and upon returning to his relative’s home he was confined to the bed for an extra day.
“Now that you’ve started exercising” he was told, “why not join the International People’s Sports Walking Club that is very popular here in Europe.” Knopp thought it was a good idea since he was on the lookout for an activity Fredericksburg might sponsor as part of its German heritage. When he returned to Fredericksburg a walking club was formed and the international headquarters in Germany approved. Volkssportverein Friedrichsburg (People’s Sports Association Fredericksburg) then became “The First in Texas, the First in the U.S.A.”
The first internationally sanctioned walk in the USA was held in Fredericksburg in June of 1976 as part of the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration. More than 200 participants came from far and wide to have their Distance Book and Event Book stamped officially. Most of those taking part were from the military bases nearby and had been on the popular weekend walks all across Europe. Almost immediately, new Volkssport clubs organized in Texas and across the country.
Here are pictures from today’s anniversary event.