Oktoberfest La Crosse


Deep in the heart of the Midwest lies a time-honored celebration known for its community spirit, cultural reverence, and unabashed merriment - Oktoberfest La Crosse. Since its inception in 1961, Oktoberfest USA, as it is popularly known, has earned the distinction of being the longest-running community Oktoberfest celebration in the region. 

Characterized by a warm spirit of “Gemütlichkeit” (friendliness), Oktoberfest La Crosse is a testament to the community's dedication to maintaining tradition while embracing the joy of shared experiences.

Embracing “Gemütlichkeit” since 1961

Oktoberfest La Crosse is a festival that transcends time. Launched in 1961, it has since upheld a tradition of fostering a friendly atmosphere - “Gemütlichkeit” - that encapsulates the essence of the original Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich, Germany. 

Over the decades, this event has continually drawn friends and family together to honor longstanding customs, create unforgettable memories, and enjoy the unique beauty of Wisconsin's autumn season.

Festivities across two historic grounds

The Oktoberfest USA celebration unfolds across four fun-filled days on two historic festival grounds, each exuding a distinctive charm and vibrancy. Among the highlights are two grand parades featuring a spectacular array of floats, music, and community participation - a visual feast that adds color and dynamism to the festivities.

A special feature of the Oktoberfest La Crosse is the community-nominated royal family. These chosen representatives, embodying the spirit of Oktoberfest, grace various festival events and take part in community activities throughout the year, serving as goodwill ambassadors of the Oktoberfest ethos.

Oktoberfest La Crosse: a unique celebration

Oktoberfest La Crosse stands out from other Oktoberfest celebrations across the United States with its unique blend of traditional activities, local community engagement, and an emphasis on heritage preservation. Let's delve into some specific events that make this festival distinct.

The tapping of the golden keg

A tradition unique to Oktoberfest La Crosse is the tapping of the golden keg. This event marks the official start of the festival, setting the tone for the grand celebrations ahead. The golden keg is a symbol of the rich brewing history of La Crosse and the state of Wisconsin, and its tapping is a moment of anticipation and joy for attendees, perfectly encapsulating the “Gemütlichkeit” atmosphere.

Parades of pride

The festival boasts not one but two renowned parades. The “Maple Leaf Parade” and the “Torchlight Parade” both provide attendees with a vibrant and colorful spectacle. 

Local bands, community groups, and Oktoberfest royalty parade through the town, instilling a sense of pride and belonging among locals and visitors alike. The community-nominated royal family is another distinctive aspect, reflecting La Crosse's close-knit community ties.

Craft beer night

While beer is a staple at any Oktoberfest, La Crosse's Craft Beer Night takes it a step further. This event allows festival-goers to explore a diverse range of craft beers from local breweries. It's not only an opportunity to sample delicious brews but also to support local businesses.

Wiener dog races

Adding a touch of whimsy to the festival are the Wiener dog races. This delightful event brings a unique charm to Oktoberfest La Crosse, and it's a hit among attendees of all ages. The sight of these adorable dogs racing creates an atmosphere of fun and laughter, making it a highlight of the festival.

Oktoberfest ambassadors

The role of Oktoberfest ambassadors is unique to Oktoberfest La Crosse. They are involved in numerous community and school events throughout the year, keeping the spirit of Oktoberfest alive beyond the four-day festival. 

This continuous engagement is an integral part of Oktoberfest La Crosse, bridging the gap between the festival and the broader community.

A culinary and beverage experience

Oktoberfest La Crosse wouldn't be complete without the tantalizing array of traditional German cuisine and beverages. Festival-goers are treated to a variety of mouthwatering dishes that reflect the richness of German gastronomy. However, it is the beer that truly steals the show.

Diverse music, entertainment, and activities

The spirit of “Gemütlichkeit” pervades every element of Oktoberfest La Crosse, extending beyond the food and drink to a wide array of activities and events influenced by German culture. The festival prides itself on its diverse musical performances, spanning traditional German tunes to contemporary sounds, ensuring there's something for every musical taste.

Unique attractions such as the amusing wiener dog races and the much-anticipated Craft beer night add an extra dimension of fun to the proceedings. And for those seeking a thrill, a variety of carnival rides and games provide endless amusement.

Building a sense of community

More than just a festival, Oktoberfest La Crosse is a true community event. Every year, hundreds of volunteers rally together to help ensure the festival's success. The event also acknowledges the invaluable contribution of local sponsors, who play a crucial role in making Oktoberfest La Crosse a standout event in the region's calendar.

The impact of Oktoberfest La Crosse extends beyond cultural celebration to economic enrichment. With an estimated annual revenue of approximately $17 million, the festival significantly bolsters the economy of La Crosse and the surrounding communities.

Embracing cultural traditions

Each year, festival-goers don traditional German attire, bringing an authentic feel to the festivities. The vibrant display of lederhosen and dirndls creates a visual spectacle and encourages a deeper appreciation of German customs and heritage. 

Moreover, the inclusion of numerous activities inspired by German culture provides participants with a unique and engaging cultural experience.

Supporting local schools and community events

Beyond the festival grounds, Oktoberfest La Crosse extends its community outreach to local schools and events. Oktoberfest's ambassadors participate in various initiatives throughout the year, fostering a continuous connection with the community and enhancing the festival's local impact.

The role of Oktoberfest in local economy

The significance of Oktoberfest La Crosse is felt beyond the festival's duration. Generating an estimated $17 million in annual revenue, the event plays a substantial role in bolstering the economy of La Crosse and its neighboring communities. 

This considerable economic impact showcases the festival's wider contribution, highlighting its importance not just as a cultural event, but also as a key driver of regional growth and prosperity.


Oktoberfest La Crosse is much more than a celebration; it's a cherished tradition that has shaped the community's cultural landscape for over six decades. By creating a shared sense of “Gemütlichkeit”, this enduring event brings people together, fosters a sense of unity, and pays homage to the rich heritage of German culture. 

From mouthwatering cuisine to captivating music, diverse activities to community bonding, Oktoberfest La Crosse truly encapsulates the spirit of unity and celebration.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like