Annual Oktoberfest celebration generates over $15 million for lo - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Annual Oktoberfest celebration generates over $15 million for local economy

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Kevin Buelow, President of La Crosse Festivals Inc. Kevin Buelow, President of La Crosse Festivals Inc.
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Oktoberfest in La Crosse brings in thousands of visitors every year and a tremendous economic boost.  

A study conducted during the 2014 festival by the Fiscal and Economic Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater found that the fall festival brings in $15 million dollars to the La Crosse area and is responsible for more than 200 jobs. 

In addition, Oktoberfest generates more than $1.17 million in tax payments to various levels of government. 

The study also determined that on average a person typically spends $202.00 in the community during Oktoberfest. 

The $15 million figure was derived by combining direct spending, related spending by businesses affected by the festival an added spending by employees of those businesses. 

President of La Crosse Festivals Inc., Kevin Buelow, said these numbers are because Oktoberfest is like a homecoming for all of La Crosse.

"You see the family groups, that's one of the things that the folks from Whitewater got a sense of is that people when they come to fest they seem to sort of travel in groups and that's like families and friends and people coming together. So that's one of the things that they really saw different about us than they saw in others," said Buelow.

The UW-Whitewater study was just one of three studies conducted during the 2014 fest.    

A second study conducted by the DECA Club of West Salem High School surveyed 413  attendees during the Torchlight and Maple Leaf parades. Students walked up and down the parade routes talking to bystanders about their attitudes regarding Oktoberfest and where they were from.

Out of the 413 surveyed, residents of 70 unique zip codes were identified, spanning from communities in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

The final study was conducted in the spring of 2014 by students in the Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. It showed that Oktoberfest ranked second to the Rotary Lights as the most valuable community event of its type.

Other findings as a result of the studies are as follows:

  • 98% would recommend attending Oktoberfest to family and friends
  • 90% feel Oktoberfest reflects a positive community image of La Crosse
  • 82% believe Oktoberfest promotes German heritage and culture 
  • 80% think Oktoberfest provides a good value of entertainment 
  • 70% of those in attendance spend two or more days at Oktoberfest
  • 2/3 of people come in groups of two or more
  • Nearly 20% of Oktoberfest attendees have been coming to fest for more than 20 years
    • 1/3 of people have been coming for more than 10 years
    • 96% of those in attendance have been to Oktoberfest at least once previously


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