Oktoberfest German Originations
In 1810, when Princess Therese was married to the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig, the festival began as a wedding celebration. In a meadow adjacent to Munich, as part of the wedding entertainment, a horse race was staged for 40,000 enthusiasts from all over Bavaria. The purpose of the celebration was two-fold, first, to give thanks to the Lord for the past years crops and other blessings & second, to share in the joy of the occasion with the family in the spirit of true love. Such was the success of the party given after the wedding that the meadow was named the Theresien-Wiese in honor of the princess. Even today, the meadow retains its name and is kept as a large open clearing within the heart of a city grown far beyond it. While Munich remains the original home for Oktoberfest, La Crosse, Wisconsin has become the home of Oktoberfest, USA.
History of Oktoberfest USA (La Crosse, Wisconsin)
The first Oktoberfest, USA, was held on October 13, 14, and 15, 1961 but the planning began many months before. In early 1960, civic leaders had agreed that La Crosse needed a community wide activity of some sort. The city had been without such an event since 1921. Because that earlier celebration had been a winter carnival, many of the leaders were in favor of renewing this idea as a La Crosse tradition.
However, there were problems involved with holding a winter event on the same dates each year. First, as we all know, it is virtually impossible to predict the winter weather in Wisconsin from day to day, much less a year in advance. Second, assuming the worst, the costs of providing artifical ice and snow were prohibitive. Finally, there were several winter carnivals in the area, including the internationally known St. Paul Carnival. The proximity of Minneapolis and its highly successful summer festival, Aquatennial, tended to rule out a similar event. Although neither festival was completely dismissed, it was agreed upon that a fall celebration was the best answer.