Festers react to four-day Oktoberfest

For some, Oktoberfest has a little bit of a different feel to it this year.

Organizers are cramming what has been nine days of fun and tradition into four days this year.

With about half the festival done, Oktoberfest organizers feel like things are going pretty well so far.

They say the beautiful weather has brought huge crowds to all events on both fest grounds.

Event staff said people are telling them they enjoy the new schedule, but not everyone feels the same.

Out-of-towners Jackie Reuning and Lisa Litzinger don’t like that Oktoberfest has been shortened. The pair have been coming to Oktoberfest for over 30 years. It’s their tradition. And tradition is exactly what they feel Oktoberfest has lost now that its schedule has changed.

“It’s just not the tradition. It’s not how things were done. I think a lot of the locals enjoyed the times that not everybody from the outside came in and we don’t have that anymore,” Reuning said.

But event organizers said they’re only hearing good things.

“We’ve had a lot of compliments. I was (on the fest grounds Friday) night, a lot of people came up to me they grabbed me and they say they’re having a good time,” Oktoberfest President-Elect Kevin Buelow said.

Even though all things are going according to plan, current Oktoberfest President Doug Kratt said there may be some tweaks that need to be made before the 55th Oktoberfest.

“People were looking, hoping for more on Thursday afternoon, I think we’ll look at different things we’ll be able to do there,” Kratt said.

Buelow feels the same.

“I think it’s not so much the event itself, but how much time do we need between events for our staff here on the grounds,” he said.

Reuning and Litzinger said they use their vacation days at work to come to La Crosse and celebrate Oktoberfest.

“It’s my favorite time of year! It’s better than my birthday, it’s better than Christmas, it’s Oktoberfest!” Litzinger said.

Their biggest complaint about only four days of fest is it’s only one weekend.

“Not everyone can make it down on the same weekend,” Litzinger said.

Reuning and Litzinger said they don’t like the Torchlight parade on Thursday. They say that’s the way to end Oktoberfest, not how to begin it.

The parades are one of the biggest differences this year. Three parades, three days in a row, which Buelow said is a lot of work. It’s especially tough on the parade committee. He says that may be something that needs changing next year as well.