LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -

The start of the annual Oktoberfest celebration is still a few weeks away, but festivities are already happening.

The first member of the Oktoberfest royal family was introduced Sunday evening at the Special Fester Ball.

This year's special fester is Gunner Skroch, a West Salem High School graduate.

2015 Festmaster Chuck Roth said the honor provides participants a unique opportunity to showcase the community.

"We have those special children that have been a part of this, their families have been a part of this, we have special festers from years in the past that here, that continue to come back year after year because it's a time for all of them to just have fun,” Roth said.

The Oktoberfest parade marshal will be announced next week.