LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – For the first time in more than 700 days, Oktoberfest is once again underway in La Crosse.
The return of the four-day festival is not only exciting for attendees, but it’s also a major boost for the Coulee Region.
“Oktoberfest represents approximately $15 million in economic impact for our area,” Explore La Crosse Executive Director A.J. Frels said. “From this festival, it also generates over a million dollars in state and local taxes.”
Normal components of the festival such as the Torchlight and Maple Leaf parades are back, along with the Northside Carnival.
While the majority of Oktoberfest remains the same this year, there are a few new wrinkles to be aware of.
“We’ve added wanding to our security when you come into the grounds,” 2021 Oktoberfest President Kelly Wilde detailed. “We also added a second big tent, and we tripled the number of our hand washing and hand sanitizing stations.”
Wilde says the additional sanitizing options are an effort to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19, but he says the best way to avoid an outbreak in cases is to stay home if you feel ill.
“If you have any kind of symptoms, if you’ve been in contact with COVID, if you have COVID, don’t come down to the grounds,” Wilde urged. “We’re able to stream the parade and we’re streaming other events so you can watch it at home, and then be safe and comfortable where you’re at and then join us next year.”
With the extra precautions in place, Oktoberfest is set to go on as scheduled, which Festmaster Tom Tiggelaar believes is crucial for the emotional well-being of the community.
“Our social psyches have been damaged a bit, and we need something like this, a celebration,” Tiggelaar expressed. “Hopefully we can do it in a safe manner and conduct ourselves and have a great time together.”
The official opening ceremony for Oktoberfest and the tapping of the golden keg will take place on Friday at 11 AM.
A full schedule of events can be found here.