Oktoberfest Board meets; no decision on parades

Published On: Mar 26 2012 11:11:08 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 26 2012 11:02:34 PM CDT

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Oktoberfest officials say they are still considering canceling the festival's three popular parades. A decision could be made in the coming days.

The 15-member Oktoberfest board held a special meeting Monday night, specifically to discuss the future of the parades.

You may remember, earlier this month the board announced plans to cancel the Maple Leaf, Torchlight and opening day parades because of new city fees. The fees total about $18,000.

Oktoberfest's executive director says the board has come up with one option that would keep the parades going although she would not say what the option is yet. The other option is to cancel the parades.

Monday's board meeting was not open to the public so we could not attend. But the executive director did tell us board members are concerned about additional city fees in years to come. "The real concern, the real issue that's out there isn't so much this year. The timeliness of this year was not good but I think we're more focused and concerned about years to come. How are we going to continue to cover that cost?," says Executive Director Tina Severson.

The fees are part of the new city budget that includes user fees to make up for nearly half-a-million dollars lost in state aid.

Council President Audrey Kader says she'd like to see Oktoberfest officials deal with this year's festival first and then worry about negotiations over future festival fees. "It seems to me that it would be a shame if the parade was canceled this year with the stated claim that the city is unreasonable. I think to lay it on the shoulders of the city is unfair," says Kader.

Oktoberfest's director says it would be very unlikely the board would decide to cancel only 1 of the parades. She says she hopes to release more information to the public in the coming days.