- Appleton's Octoberfest believes it has bounced back from COVID-19, as organizers expect 220,000 to take to College Avenue on Saturday.
- Octoberfest Chair Paul Shrode said the event boasts more than 800 volunteers in 2023, and said it has twice as many beer vendors as the 2022 edition.
- This marks the 32nd edition of the event, which began in 1981.
- Video shows vendors and visitors enjoying beer and music.
(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)
The beer vendors started working around 5 a.m. and the beer was flowing by 9 [a.m.]. Judging by the turnout of people and vendors, the 32nd Octoberfest has been a success.
It all started with the traditional keg tap in the morning.
With an expected turnout of 220,000, Appleton Octoberfest was bound to bring out the character of the Fox Cities. Tonya Mand and Anthony Schmidz donned the lederhosen and dirndl costumes to celebrate Schmidz' birthday.
"Where else would we rather be?" Mand said.
Some of the 800 volunteers even dressed the part.
"Since we're serving the Spaten beer from Munich, I definitely had to show the part," Andrew Stowe said.
Appletonians like Stowe look forward to the city's biggest annual party.
"I always run into people that I haven't seen for years or haven't reacquainted with," Stowe said.
Octoberfest Chair Paul Shrode says the volunteers are the reason the event is back to its former glory.
"We have doubled the food booths this year that we had last year," Stowe said. "So we really feel like we're bouncing back from COVID."
Shrode says the impact on the community's non-profits has increased dramatically in the 30 years he has helped organize Octoberfest.
"Through grants to the Octoberfest committee, every year we raise $50,000 a year, but over time, we've been able to get over $2.5 million," Shrode said.
A booth here can be the biggest fundraiser of the year for organizations like Kimberly's American Legion chapter.
"This event means a lot to us," Brian Smits said. "We raise funds but we also raise awareness."
Commander Smits says the American Legion aims to fight veteran suicide with the proceeds it raises from food and drink sales.
"We love the support," Smits said. "We love when we hold Veterans Day activities that people show up. And we really appreciate it. We appreciate everybody who's coming down to Octoberfest."
The organizers say the warm weather certainly helped boost this year's Octoberfest attendance, as visitors came from far and wide to see it.