LA CROSSE, Wisc. (WLAX) — Preparations remain underway for the 60th Okotberfest USA in La Crosse, despite a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases.
After being canceled last year, this year’s event is expected to draw a large crowd. That’s not an ideal scenario, according to La Crosse County Health Director Audra Martine, who said the county is experiencing a very high COVID-19 transmission.
“If you can cancel your event and that’s feasible to do, please consider it,” Martine said. “And if you can’t cancel for many reasons, think about other ways you can keep people safe that might attend your event, either by lessening the number of people that are coming, holding the event outdoors, having people sit together with people that they normally are with in their household.”
Martine said the decision to hold Oktoberfest has drawn mixed feedback from the community.
.”There’s people that would love to see larger events canceled and are concerned about the level of community risk, and for those individuals I’m sure they’ll choose not to participate,” she said. “For others, this is a large event that is a big social network in our community, and it’s important for those reasons as well as many others.”
Martine said she hopes those who participate in Oktoberfest consider the risks to the community and use as many precautions as possible to keep one another safe.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Lederhosen Games will be part of the celebration, and UW-La Crosse Seniors Emma Loewe and Kiera Johnson said attendees can expect popular events to return, all in the spirit of the festival.
“When you think of Oktoberfest, you think of beer, Loewe said. “Some of our games involve beer, the stein hold, which is holding up a stein of beer for as long as you possibly can, and then the stein races where you hold a stein of beer and you run around the cones, and your goal is to end up with the most beer still in your stein at the end of the game.”