CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- Today kicks off Oktoberfest this weekend in Chippewa Falls, and for more than a decade the tradition is still going strong. Hello Wisconsin follows the story behind this year's logo design. WEAU’s Courtney Everett honored one man and his accordion that has been bringing smiles since the beginning.
It's a familiar sound that comes with a face and you know when it’s “Crazy George the Accordion Man.”
Volunteer Tom Coushman says, "He became the unofficial face of Oktoberfest. Being part of Oktoberfest back then I saw all kinds of changes but there was always something that was constant and that was crazy George."
George says, "I had one lesson back when I was 13 and all of a sudden I was 33 and I picked up the accordion, put it on and started playing all these songs."
Every note he plays, truly comes from the heart without even thinking.
George adds, "If I hear a song, I'll be able to play it. You know I can't tell you what any of these things do. I can't tell you what that is, I can't tell you what that is, or what this is."
Since the beginning, this dynamic duo has worked side by side at Oktoberfest in Chippewa Falls through music and volunteering.
But for George -- the Oktoberfest tradition dates back 24 years ago, starting in Lacrosse He says, "They said oh do you have a lederhosen? I said ohhh yeah. I had no idea what lederhosen were at the time. "
For Tom Coushman, it was the perfect fit to design this year's logo and have his friend George center stage.
He adds, "We trace back my family on both sides back 6 generation, full blooded German."
Crazy George says, "Now we get to wear the short pants all the time and hug and kiss the grandmas! Yeah!"
Coushman says, "I was in Lacrosse one day at a grocery store and George comes strolling in with his accordion and I took a picture of him and got home and looked at the picture of him and thought this is perfect."
After just hours, a logo was born. Tom explains, "I designed it in 2009. I submitted that it wasn't chosen, the next year I just changed the dates, and submitted it again."
But it turns out committee members we're saving it for a special year.
Tom added, “2016 they called me and said we chose the 13th Annual and the 14th Annual at the same time, we want to use yours for the 15th."
It came as a definite surprise for “Crazy George The Accordion Man.” George says, "I was down here in March when they had the logo unveiling and it was all covered up with a big black tarp."
"All of a sudden I turn around, the tears just start coming down my face and I said my gosh, that's me on the Oktoberfest logo."
So you need not travel far to hear his talent, when it's the accordion, you know its George.
“It’s always in the trunk and have it with me somewhere and music can be spontaneous.
"I'm the old guy now, you know I used to be the young guy and now I'm the old guy and to be on the logo but most importantly to be representing Chippewa Falls and the community of beautiful people…that's what it’s really about and thanks for the opportunity."