DON'T Roll Out the Barrel: Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest Delayed Until 2021

celebration of German culture is latest event to vanish for 2020

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Dirndls and Lederhosen on full display at a previous Oktoberfest in Chippewa Falls.
Dirndls and Lederhosen on full display at a previous Oktoberfest in Chippewa Falls.

For obvious reasons, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancelation of virtually every public event in Wisconsin this spring and into early summer. Now pandemic-driven uncertainty is leading even fall events to be suspended: The latest in the Chippewa Valley is Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest, which has been postponed until September 2021.

The Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce announced the delay on Wednesday evening, saying it had been reached after “thoughtful conversation and consultation.”

“This was not an easy decision,” said Tasha Weiss, the chamber’s program directory. “Although this decision comes with a heavy heart, we felt this was the best decision as we look at the health and safety of our community, vendors, volunteers, entertainers, and staff.”

“This was not an easy decision. Although this decision comes with a heavy heart, we felt this was the best decision as we look at the health and safety of our community, vendors, volunteers, entertainers, and staff.” –Tasha Weiss, Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

Originally scheduled for Sept. 18-19, 2020, at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, the 18th Annual Oktoberfest will be delayed until Sept. 17-18, 2021. The event typically attracts thousands of people for a weekend of celebrating German (and Wisconsin) traditions with lots of food, music, dancing, beer, and events such as keg rolling, stein holding, and sauerkraut eating contests.

The postponement follows the announcement earlier this week that original Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany – which typically draws 6 million visitors from around the globe – won’t be held in 2020 because of the pandemic. (According to the Washington Post, the only things that have canceled Oktoberfest in the past were the two World Wars, the hyperinflation of 1923, and cholera outbreaks in the 1800s.)

In the Chippewa Valley, some major summer events (such as Farm Technology Days, originally slated for July outside Eau Claire) have been postponed until 2021, while others have been shifted forward on the calendar (both Blue Ox and Country Fest were moved from June to August in the hopes of avoiding the coronavirus).

According to a press release from the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, the decision to postpone Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest “was ultimately made due to the impacts of COVID-19, and the unknown timeline for current Safer at Home orders. Due to the likely slow and careful reintroduction of large gatherings during the Badger Bounce Back Plan, it is currently not feasible to continue moving forward with planning for our event in 2020.”

Find out more about Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest at facebook.com/chippewafallsoktoberfest.