Missing the Fest: The impact on businesses with no Oktoberfest this weekend

Oktoberfest normally brings in $15 million to the local economy, according to Explore La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – If it weren’t for the pandemic, Oktoberfest would be happening right now.

And while there is no traditional spread of gemutlichkeit this year, that’s not stopping folks from festing in La Crosse.

It’s crazy how much things can change in a year.

“Usually during this weekend, we have a lot of out of town guests coming for the festival,” La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce interim CEO Joe Kruse said.

Not as many visitors are here for Oktoberfest weekend this year, which means businesses downtown are going to take a hit.

“But I do think that there will be some activity downtown,” Kruse said.

Kruse says some bars are making their own preps for gemutlichkeit.

“Some of the taverns in town are planning to have their own sort of Oktoberfest celebrations in their tavern,” Kruse said.

Folks are still renting out hotel rooms as well.

“We are busy, but still I would say it’s not sold out,” Country Inn & Suites general manager Jay Patel said.

Patel says the hotel’s capacity is around two-thirds full. But the hotel is charging significantly less for an overnight stay this weekend.

“If we look at it revenue wise, it’s going to be a huge impact if we consider all the hotels,” Patel said.

Patel says the hotel’s capacity is around the same as it was last weekend, too.

“So they might be visiting in town to just get out and have some fun,” Patel said.

Kruse say it’s nice there will be people festing, but urges you to do so safely.

“We are a hot spot,” Kruse said. “And we gotta be mindful of that as we enter into the weekend. Please be careful.”

Friday would’ve been the Tapping of the Golden Keg. Kruse, who is a former festmaster, says the event itself brings up to 7,000 people.

Explore La Crosse leaders say normally, Oktoberfest brings in about $15 million to the local economy.