1991 festmaster helping people connect with each other through singing

Karl Friedline sings the German National Anthem and has not missed an Oktoberfest in 30 years

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Connections are made right here at the Oktoberfest grounds.

And as people from far and wide gather for La Crosse’s biggest celebration, one man in particular is looking on at the thousands of strangers he’s grown accustom to seeing.

Karl Friedline was the 1991 festmaster, and he has been helping spread gemutlichkeit ever since.

“Every year. 30 years,” Friedline said.

And there’s one reason why the 91-year-old came back again.

“It’s family,” Friedline said. “And how can you not love what you’ve seen here today.”

But he’s not here just to celebrate.

“I did want to sit down to sing today,” Friedline said.

Oktoberfest Beer

Former festmaster Karl Friedline singing the German National Anthem prior to the Tapping of the Golden Keg. Friedline, 91, says he will keep coming to Oktoberfest as long as he is able to.

Taking the stage singing the German National Anthem that he’s done many times before.

“They love him, don’t they,?” Oktoberfest President Kelly Wilde said. “Every day of the year, Karl Friedline is the epitomy of gemutlichkeit in La Crosse when it comes to Oktoberfest.”

“It’s the one joy that I really have,” Friedline said. “And I appreciate people appreciating my talents.”

One voice that unites the thousands of festgoers before the famous Golden Keg is tapped.

Friedline says he’s been singing since he was 5.

He moved to La Crosse in 1965.

He says he will continue to come back to Oktoberfest as long as he is able.