Chippewa Falls hosts 17th annual Oktoberfest celebration

This year’s Oktoberfest celebration featured pumpkin rolls, hair wreaths and more

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McKenna Dirks

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Oktoberfest is a German tradition that began in 1810 as a celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Theresa. They married in Munich, Germany in October and invited the public to join in their festivities – which included horse races, food and lots of beer. Now, Germans continue to celebrate every year with beer, food, music and dancing. 

But, Germany isn’t the only place that celebrates Oktoberfest every year. Chippewa Falls celebrated Oktoberfest for its 17th year this last weekend at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds.

There were three-day admission tickets available for this event — one for VIP admission and one for general admission. There were also daily admission tickets available. 

Heather Gubrud, a Chippewa Chamber Committee member, said it is a popular event with many activities for children and adults, including a family-fun building with souvenirs and attire for families as well as the German club, which explains the history of Germany and Oktoberfest. 

“We also have a kids area with activities that include crafts,” Gubrud said. “Yesterday was scarecrow making, today is a birdhouse workshop.

Children also had the chance to show off their costumes in a costume show, where they wore Lederhosen and Dirndl — traditional German dress, Gubrud said. 

There was also a magician, a juggler performance and balloon animals for the kids, Gubrud said. 

The event had 16 vendors, as well as five total bands that performed – three of which were continually playing on three separate stages throughout the grounds, she said.

The event also had a main entertainment tent and a biergarten (beer garden) where they held beer competitions throughout the weekend. The biergarten also hosted bands that would perform there as well. 

Leinenkugels, a local brewery that features German-style crafted beer, sponsors the local Oktoberfest, Gubrud said.  

“We get people from everywhere,” Gubrud said. “There’s a map where you can pin where you’re from at one of the booths.”

Donna Kraemer, a pumpkin roll vendor, said she enjoys meeting people and sharing pumpkin rolls that are homemade from her church, Trinity United Methodist church.

“We also sell cookies and gluten-free products for those who need it,” Ruth Anne Gilbertson, another pumpkin roll vendor, said.

She said their booth has been participating in Oktoberfest for the last 10 years. The proceeds of this booth go back to their church.

In addition to pumpkin rolls, Oktoberfest also hosted a hair wreath and headband booth. 

“We make the hair crowns all year long,” Gilbertson said. “About once a month we get together and make crowns, and we make about 100 of each.”

The hair wreaths are made by members of the Philanthropic and Educational Organization of Chippewa Falls, Pam Frederick, a hair wreath vendor, said. 

“PEO gives out scholarships to women at our local highschools, university levels and Ph.D. levels,” Frederick said. 

She said the proceeds of the booth go toward scholarships for women. 

Gubrud said the proceeds of the entire Oktoberfest event goes back to the Chippewa Falls community.

Dirks can be reached at [email protected]

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