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.