Appleton’s OctoberfestTM Announces Cancellation of 2021 Event

Published Monday, September 13, 2021 12:05 pm

APPLETON, Wis. – In spite of tremendous effort and hope for a celebratory 2021 event after cancellation due to COVID-19 in 2020, Appleton’s OctoberfestTM today announces the cancellation of the 2021 License to Cruise and Appleton’s OctoberfestTM events scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25, respectively, in downtown Appleton. Organizers and officials say the difficult decision to cancel was reached due to a number of extenuating circumstances:

  • Each year, nearly 1,000 volunteers play a critical role in being able to provide a family-friendly, safe, and enjoyable atmosphere for the more than 300,000 attendees who participate in Appleton’s OctoberfestTM and License to Cruise. This year, the events have failed to draw and maintain enough volunteers serving in key roles. It is not possible to host the events without these large numbers of volunteers.

  • Eventgoers annually look forward to a delicious array of food provided by nearly 100 non-profit food vendors. This year, the event experienced a 50% decline in participation from food vendors, creating significant concerns about food availability at the event.

  • Children under the age of 12 at this time are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Because these are intended to be family-friendly events, organizers want to ensure safe attendance is available to all participants as case numbers rise in the region.

  • Due to a strained Fox Cities workforce and driver shortages, alternative transportation options are severely limited; this affects both safety and access for attendees.

After months of planning and discussion, the conclusion was reached that the events could not be held at the level befitting the 30th and 40th anniversary milestone years of each event.

“We extend our heartfelt thank you to our volunteer planning committee and Chamber staff who worked tirelessly to try and pull off this year’s events,” said Paul Shrode, chair of the Appleton’s OctoberfestTM Committee. “Although this year won’t bring the traditional License to Cruise and Octoberfest events that the public has come to know and love, we look forward to welcoming the community back in 2022.”

“Our staff, volunteers, board of directors, and partners demonstrated a tremendous commitment to do everything possible to make Appleton’s OctoberfestTM and License to Cruise happen in 2021, even into the month of September,” said Becky Bartoszek, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “I commend their good faith, hard work, and community spirit.

“That being said, the situation on the ground over the course of the past month is dictating that the events weren’t meant to happen this year, in this environment. We want to stage the 40th anniversary of Appleton’s OctoberfestTM when it can be a high-quality event. That means adequate staffing, safety, and transportation, as well as 

sufficient food and beverage supplies. At this time there is not a path forward to alleviate these concerns before time runs out. This decision to cancel was certainly not taken lightly and definitely not made without the maximum possible effort to prevent it. This community consistently comes together, cares for one another, and works with the best of intentions, and I want to thank everyone who helped and supported us in the planning of this year's events.”

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