BARABOO — The first Oktoberfest in Baraboo was marked by the opening of Al. Ringling Brewery, which aims to celebrate the city’s history and classic German culture.
The brewery, which is located at 623 W Broadway St. in Baraboo — directly next to Ringing Mansion, is designed to honor the heritage of the German Ringling Brothers and German heritage throughout the state.
“We’ve kind of modeled our taproom in the German beer hall sort of way,” said Brewery co-owner Jon Bare. “We’re celebrating the history of Baraboo, the history of the Ringlings, the history of the circus. We’re very proud of that and we know Baraboovians are as well, and of course predominantly German around here.”
To celebrate the opening, the Baraboo Chamber of Commerce hosted with Oktoberfest beers, wines and traditional German foods served at many restaurants, breweries and wineries throughout the city.
The event was originally intended to be a large traditional outdoor festival with beer and food tents, but was ultimately scaled back due to COVID-19.
“We thought we could put together an unorganized pub crawl, where you don’t have hundreds of people flocking into one place at a time,” said Baraboo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darren Hornby.
The event took place at different venues throughout Baraboo. Each of the 10 different venues on the route served different Oktoberfest drinks or foods, like Reubans and Pork Schnitzel.
For every Oktoberfest item sold, $1 was donated to the Chamber of Commerce. Hornby said the chamber is in need of fundraisers and tourism heavy events, as many of its summer events were cancelled due to COVID-19.
“We felt it was a good solution to promote local businesses since we couldn’t bring them all in for a festival,” Hornby said. “It’s a way for us to support the local businesses and the local businesses to support the chamber in these times of need for us.”
Hornby said the Chamber chose an Oktoberfest event because there was not a similar event nearby, and believed it would attract many tourists, while honoring the history of the city.
He said the chamber plans to host the event each year.
“It’s a preview of Oktoberfests to come," Hornby said. "Next year, given a change in climate, we’re definitely looking at hosting, which will hopefully be a large scale tourism driving event."
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