CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN
Story by Lance Cpl. Jonathan Beauchamp
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – In 1886, the world’s first vehicle powered by a gas engine was created, and in 1969 the first recording of a vehicle traveling 200 mph was documented. Today, vehicles can be used for a multitude of reasons, not just transportation. For some, vehicles are used to provide a means of income, for others, vehicles are a passion and a way of self-expression.
Camp Foster hosted a Food Truck Fair and Car Show to allow the local and U.S. military community to come together for food and cars.
“I attend events because I like seeing the audience enjoy themselves,” said Sharod Croom, an entertainment coordinator with Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa. “Events like this are important because it helps the U.S. build a stronger relationship with Japan. I think Okinawa differs from most prefectures of Japan because it is the most culturally diverse. Diversity is important because it helps create a general understanding between different communities, and MCCS helps bring this to light.”
During the fair, participants shared their passion for vehicle mechanics and maintenance. The entrants used their vehicles as a creative way to share their vision of how they would like to portray a part of themselves.
“I think the event went well,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kenny Lopez, an agent with Criminal Investigation Division, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “I learned about the local culture and met new friends. I think events like this are important because they give people an opportunity to share their passion for cars with new audiences.”
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Food Truck and Car Show Fair was last hosted in 2019. As the virus has currently declined since its outbreak in 2020, Camp Foster reopened the fair for the public. This year a total of 82 cars and 15 food trucks were featured in the event. The gathering was open to Status of Forces Agreement personnel and Okinawan residents, totaling over 4,500 guests.
“I feel like when I entered the show, I was also sharing a part of myself with the community,” said Lopez. “My favorite part of this event was seeing the individual character and personality that people put into their cars.”
Croom explained that he sees events continuing to move in a positive direction. He said his goal is to host a plethora of events, where larger numbers of Okinawan residents are able to come to military installations to interact with SOFA personnel. Croom said that he is excited to see how the communities continue to work together toward common goals and understand each other’s culture.