Oktoberfest 1

At left, Don Roberts of Black River Falls filled a 2014 Oktoberfest commemorative mug with beer during the 2014 Black River Falls Oktoberfest celebration.

File photo

It’s time to grab your lederhosen and beer steins because Oktoberfest is coming to Black River Falls Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.

This year it was moved to the Jackson County Fairgrounds in the animal arena to give the event more space to breathe, but the hope is that it will also draw in more people now that it’s in a more visible location.

“We’ve never tracked the number of people that attend, but my guess would be somewhere around 1,000 throughout the day,” Amanda Gunn, the interim executive director of the Black River Country Chamber of Commerce said.

The beer this year will be provided by local brewery Sand Creek Brewing Company, who also coordinated with the Tavern League to create a safe ride program.

People have been calling in to the chamber of commerce to check on hotels and accommodations. Gunn said she’s heard from some of the hotels that people are specifically booking rooms for Oktoberfest.

“It’s hard to know a hard number of how much money it brings in, but if those people are renting hotels and staying overnight, they have to eat breakfast and they are spending that money somewhere,” Gunn said.

Oktoberfest is a festival in several towns and cities in Wisconsin, but it helps show off what cities like Black River Falls have to offer to people who might not think to visit.

Gunn said last year she heard of a woman who happened upon Oktoberfest when she was passing through, and enjoyed it so much she is returning this year because she loved it and the community so much.

With any big festival though, there are the obvious safety concerns, but police chief Kelly Bakken says the department is plenty prepared for the event.

“We will be selling brats and food to raise money for our canine and CSO programs, so there will be plenty of us around,” Bakken said.

Bakken, who just started as Black River Falls police chief, will be tapping the golden keg at Oktoberfest, “I’m honored they asked me to do that and I’m excited to be up there and with the community.”

One of the police department’s main concerns for an event like Oktoberfest is a higher chance for OWIs and Bakken advises people to have a plan in place ahead of time to keep everyone safe.

She also said those bringing family or children to the event should plan ahead as well and tell children what is and isn’t appropriate.

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Stephen Knoll is a reporter for Jackson County Chronicle. Contact him at 715-284-0085.

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