Festgoers say this year’s Oktoberfest crowd is larger than previous years

According to Explore La Crosse, Oktoberfest generates more than $15 million worth of economic impact in the La Crosse area.

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The organization Explore La Crosse estimates that each visitor to Oktoberfest spends more than $200 each.

If you didn’t have a ticket, it took about an hour and 15 minutes to enter the Oktoberfest grounds Friday morning.

On Friday, some festgoers said this year’s crowd is larger than previous years.

Accordion Player George Schilpz has been coming to Oktoberfest for 28 years. On Friday, he said the line outside the grounds was extremely long.

“The line went for miles and miles,” he said.

Food Vendor Tony Becker of Stumpy’s Concessions said Friday that this is his tenth year selling at Oktoberfest. He expects to make a profit again this year because of the sheer volume of people.

“So far it’s going great,” he said. “A large crowd came out this morning to be here,” he added.

Like any other year, people have come from miles around to celebrate Oktoberfest in La Crosse. David Haga came from South Dakota.

“It feels great, the weather’s great, the people are great,” he said.

Explore La Crosse estimates that approximately 150,000 people will attend Saturday’s parade.

According to a 2014 UW-Whitewater study, La Crosse’s Oktoberfest employs at least 200 people.

Ben Morgan is the director of group sales and sports services at Explore La Crosse.

He said local hotels are almost at capacity because of the volume of festgoers.

“It is a great, great weekend for hotel stays,” he said.