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Decision on La Crosse's Oktoberfest coming later this summer

Decision on La Crosse's Oktoberfest coming later this summer

From the The pandemic hits home: Keep up with the latest La Crosse area news on COVID-19 series
Oktoberfest keg 2019

Oktoberfest Festmaster Terry Cowgill lift his stein high in 2019 as he leads the "Ziggy-Zaggy" chant during the tapping of the Golden Keg.

Plans for the 60th annual La Crosse Oktoberfest celebration are still undecided, officials said this week, as they wait to see what COVID-19 brings in the coming weeks and months.

The four-day event, scheduled this year for Sept. 24-27, brings in tens of thousands of guests to the downtown area for a parade, keg tappings, music and food — which is a real problem if the virus outbreak persists.

“While the prognosis may not seem great at this time for Oktoberfest occurring as planned, it’s important to keep in mind that the current situation has developed quickly over the past two months, and there are still four months until Oktoberfest,” said James Brennan, co-president of the Oktoberfest board.

Officials are hoping that the tides will change in their favor, but won’t be making any final decisions until mid-July, when most of their contracts and payments for the event need to be finalized.

“It is our duty to not make any rash or hasty decisions,” Brennan said.

In the meantime, it is still business as usual for the fest-planners, who are continuing their prep for the event.

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“Right now, our sole focus is planning for Oktoberfest to occur as scheduled,” Brennan said.

But in the event that Oktoberfest is postponed to 2021, Brennan said the group will “certainly look at alternative ways to engage the community and spread Gemutlichkeit in the interim.”

The group’s annual charitable event “Forks and Corks,” which was originally scheduled for March, has been reimagined as “Forks and Pork” for May 21.

This year the group will be offering a pork-ribeye meal for curbside pick-up, instead of its fine-dining and wine-pairing event.

The event, which usually raises scholarship funds for local students, will donate a share of its profits this year to the La Crosse Area Emergency Response Fund.

“Oktoberfest obviously means a lot to the community,” Brennan said.

“At the same time, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our community and out-of-town visitors,” he said, “It is a decision and responsibility we do not take lightly.”

“We continue to monitor the situation, and remain aware that there may come a time when it is clear that a postponement of our 60th year until 2021 is the best path forward, from a health standpoint,” Brennan said.


“We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our community and out-of-town visitors. It is a decision and responsibility we do not take lightly.” James Brennan, co-president of the Oktoberfest board

"We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our community and out-of-town visitors. It is a decision and responsibility we do not take lightly."

James Brennan, co-president of the Oktoberfest board

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