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La Crosse community reacts to Oktoberfest 2020 cancellation

No fest will impact the city economically, as a study shows it brings in $15 million annually.
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:40 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -

The ‘Golden Keg’ will not be tapped this fall, as the 60th annual Oktoberfest USA in La Crosse is officially canceled.

The festival is the largest event in the city, according to Explore La Crosse.

It brings in crowds of more than 100,000 for its parades.

“The average fest-goer spends a little over $200 per person and it has an impact of over $1 million in state and local taxes,” said A.J. Frels, Explore La Crosse executive director.

According to a 2015 UW-Whitewater study, Oktoberfest generates a total annual economic impact of $15 million for La Crosse.

Local experts say the economic impact of the fest’s cancellation will be widespread for the city.

“The cancellation of Oktoberfest will affect almost everyone,” Frels said. “We will see it with not only hotels, restaurants, and bars, but the stores that were going to see that shopping, gas stations, even pharmaceutical companies.”

For many, Oktoberfest is synonymous with La Crosse and there’s different things to look forward to each fall.

“It’s a special time--tapping the golden keg and things like that,” said Suzanne and Bill Schulz, La Crosse residents. “The morning parade was one of our favorites. A lot of people had their certain things that they liked to go to.”

While Oktoberfest has changed through the years, for many it’s a family tradition to attend.

This September will be the first time since 1961 some will miss.

“We were juniors in high school when it started in ’61 I believe and I got really involved through the years because my sister was a past Mrs. Oktoberfest in 1987,” Suzanne said.

While residents are sad over the cancellation, they say it’s better to be safe than sorry--especially with the recent surge in COVID cases.

“Wait for next year it will be bigger and better. It will probably be bigger next year, now [that they have] longer to plan,” said Bill and Suzanne Shulz. “It will be fine. We will be fine waiting a year.”

The 60th Oktoberfest is now rescheduled for September 30 through October 3 in 2021.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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