Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Maple Leaf Parade

A warm fall day made for big crowds at Oktoberfest's 2012 Maple Leaf Parade.

Beginning in 2014, Oktoberfest will shorten its fest from its present nine-day run to a four-day run. Organizers are calling it a return to their roots, as Oktoberfest began as a four-day festival.

Now, said Kam-Lin Roswall, president of the Oktoberfest Board of Directors, it’s time to rein in and make the four days denser with activities. The change was announced this morning at a press conference at the South Side Festgrounds.

One of their goals, Roswall said, was to be fiscally responsible, and this will help them accomplish that.

When asked if having to pay parade fees was partly responsible for this change, Roswall said no, because the board had been discussing this change for years.

This year’s festival will remain nine days. Next year, the festival will open on Thursday, Sept. 25, with the Torchlight Parade. The Maple Leaf Parade will remain on Saturday, and the festival will continue through Sunday, Sept. 28.

When asked why the festival isn’t being held in October, Roswall answered, “Why mess with tradition?”

Oktoberfest traditionally begins in September and ends in October.

Roswall said the board decided to announce the change now to get the word out well in advance of next year’s festival.

“We are aware that literally thousands of people plan their schedules around our event and want to give all of our friends and supporters ample notice of our new format.”

Roswall said the shorter festival will be more robust, with many activities on both North and South Side grounds. One of their goals, she said, was to strengthen the amount of activity on the North Side grounds, and this will help them do that.

While a schedule has not been completely set and organizers haven’t figured out how to squeeze in all the activities, Roswall said making full use of both grounds should help them juggle most of the events.

“The Oktoberfest board has shared their thoughts with the fest family groups, and there is strong consensus that this is the right move at the right time,” Roswall said.

Dave Clements, executive director of the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the shorter festival should not affect the annual $3 million impact that Oktoberfest makes on the city.

“I don’t see that changing. I don’t see any negative impact at all.”

There will still be a Miss La Crosse-Oktoberfest pageant, there will still be a Festmaster’s Ball, and the royal family will still attend area parades and visit schools, hospitals and nursing homes, Roswall said.

For more abut this story, see Wednesday's Tribune.


Digital news editor

Digital news editor

(31) comments


Hey Buggs - Frank from American Pickers wants to have first crack at it before you! :) I can't help but wonder if this has anything to do with ownership of the Oktoberfest grounds. You think there's a possibility that their trying to shorten it in case it has to be relocated elsewhere?


They will have to charge $27 for a beer obviously.


How about 4 beers per person and call it a day?


How about 4 hours?


How about 2 days?


Totally, totally agree with this!!! Four days is all they need! Maybe the drunk fest will go back to where it use to be .. A family fest!


I am shocked that the Tavern League didn't have this idea squashed immediately....


in 2015 they will get rid of beer in the halls and have bingo.


Okay by me. Five fewer days not to attend. Stopped going when they stopped having quality entertainment.


They have almost non-stop entertainment and most of it very good. Not big, expensive national acts maybe, but still very good. You're missing some good stuff.


This sucks!

Captain Fantastic

I think that two weekends is too much. It should go from Friday (Tapping of the Golden Keg) through Thursday (Torchlight Parade). True it may have only been 4 days when it started, but that was probably because it was a brand new idea and nobody knew what to expect. As long as it is only going to be four days, it is ridiculous to NOT have it in October. Saying "Why mess with tradition?" is an idiotic response to that question.


I agree Captian.. I like the Friday to Thursday idea as well. I think that would help out the 1/2 and 1/2 parent as well. Of course this was probably NEVER discussed. I think the two weekends was too long and the 4 days will be way to short.


"I think the two weekends was too long and the 4 days will be way to short."
Dead on. Precisely. Maybe after the first year of 4 days they'll realize that and go back to the Friday through Thursday scheduling.

Buggs Raplin

The big question before everyone's mind is whether the esteemed Buggs Raplin will finally be named Festmaster.

David Jarzemski



For those of us with 1/2 visitation schedules of our children , Having it 2 weekends allows for me to take the kids on the weekend I have them to festivities,


..and Oktoberfest is priority?? Then possibly work with your 'other' and be a bit flexible if this is priority for your weekend! OMG.


Thanx for ruining the Northsides traditional Torchlight Parade. The whole Northside went to the Beer tent at the northside fest grounds. Knowone goes there now.,cause of the change last year. That tent is empty now. Totaly sux that this was done.


I think this is great.This was the norm for years. 2 weeks of the fest was too much.


hey question,

Its like Applefest. The main fest is only four days. There are many events such as the demo derby that are held earlier. The Fest Family can visit these places any time they want. It doesn't have to be during these four days. There are a lot of things they do that doesn't involve carnivals and parades. This is just the main open to all the public event that will be four days.


I know that there is MUCH more to Fest then carnivals and parades. This family has been involved for years! We take vacation to be involved. People in this group (grenadiers, royal family and their spouses, parade marshal and their family, board members past fest masters and their Frau, past Mrs.O, etc) can't just "visit these places any time they want" There is much more coordination involved in visiting schools, nursing homes, etc. The schools need to have time available and it coincides with the nursing homes etc. The traveling accordion comes down from the cities and his side kick has a job as well as going to all of these functions. This has not been very well thought out by the Board of Directors.


Get guess is this will be much better. The 9 day event was just too long.


Ha really. And just how is the fest family going to continue visiting schools and nursing homes during the shortened schedule. Schools and nursing homes are visited Monday thru Friday as well as, riverfront, and the Friday visit to the retiring sisters up on the ridge to help them celebrate their Oktoberfest as well. This means that fest will make ALL these visits on Thursday thru Sunday only? The new Festmaster will only be available Saturday and Sunday to visit BOTH areas AND all the schools, nursing homes, etc. Lord knows how much the festmastesr LOVE being down on the grounds on the weekends NOT Don't forget judging the needlepoint, the photo contest, the "heritage night" activities, All of these events were not in place at the very beginning. Why not go back to Friday night festmaster ball, Saturday parade and Thrusday Torchlight to END the thing like it use to be giving the fest family time to actually do the other visits to all the public doesn't realize goes on.


question - I'm with you on this schedule. I think simply closing with the Torchlight Parade was perfect. It became unmanageable when they continued into the 2nd weekend. I enjoy the fest and have attended just about all the various events at one time or another. 4 days - when is the Lederhosen Lunch going to be held? Ladies Day lunch. 4 days - You may be able to present all these events but the attendees will have to pick their few because they will be overlapping each other. End on Thursday with the Torchlight was always perfect.


Question, I could not agree more. Four days are not enough for the events you mentioned to be accomplished properly, that is to say spending quality time with these populations (schools, hospitals, nursing homes) deserving respect and inclusion in a festival that they may have no other way to participate in. I was about eight years old when the fest began. I have very fond memories of going to the Maple Leaf parade and the fest grounds (which if memory serves were around 7th and State, by First Federal) as a FAMILY and having great times! This festival needs to return to its roots of family oriented community celebration, and a good way to start would be to revert back to Friday ceremonies concluded by Thursday Torchlight Parade. That schedule was perfect. It wasn't broke, I wish I knew why some people think that it needs fixing. Good comment, question.


"And just how is the fest family going to continue visiting schools and nursing homes during the shortened schedule." It was announced on TV tonight that they will make those visits after the 4 days are over.


"Why not go back to Friday night festmaster ball, Saturday parade and Thrusday Torchlight to END the thing like it use to be giving the fest family time to actually do the other visits to all the public doesn't realize goes on." Regardless of how they handle the fest family visits, I agree 100% with your "start Friday, big parade Saturday, then end with the Torchlight Parade on Thursday." That first weekend is when all the party animals come to town, and the rest of the week can be a little quieter with more time and space when local residents head to the grounds. I undersatnd their motives in shortening it, but I think they're going to find it difficult to pack what Oktoberfest has become into 4 days. Sober-up Monday through the Torchlight Parade can't require nearly as much police "gaurd duty" as the drunken weekend does.


I thought it was extended to have a weekend of focus on family friendliness? I really enjoy the Fest, but will miss the extra weekend.

David Jarzemski

Bad idea...bad idea...the longer the better.

Question. Will the annual Oktoberfest Medallion Hunt continue in 2014? It's my fav part of the Oktoberfest days.


I agree David!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe or log in to continue.