(Sung:) Ein Prosit, ein Prosit

Der Gemütlichkeit

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit

Der Gemütlichkeit

(Shouted): Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa!

Hear that song and chant, and there’s a good chance a German beer garden is nearby.

Over the weekend during Lake Geneva’s annual Oktoberfest, those words were heard a lot.

For the first time ever, the Lake Geneva Oktoberfest, sponsored by the Lake Geneva Business Improvement District, featured a beer garden complete with one-liter beer boots and a German polka band.

Oktoberfest took place Oct. 7 and 8 in the 200 block of Broad Street and at Flat Iron Park.

In the past, there was no place to tap a brew at Oktoberfest. Those wanting a foamy malt-and-barley repast had to leave the festival and find a nearby watering hole.

This year, visitors found it to be a natural combination: Oktoberfest, Sprecher beer and a German polka band adding some “oompah” to the event.

“I think its great,” said Ron Schneidwind of Fontana.

Schneidwind said he had been to previous Oktoberfests in Lake Geneva, but this one had a more traditional feel.

“It’s great family fun, because it’s traditional,” Schneidwind said, sitting next to his son, Luca, 6.

Taverns worried

Before the event, representatives of some local taps said they were concerned about a possible drop in sales at their own establishments because of the introduction of the beer garden.

Taverns near the festival grounds, however, enjoyed robust business during the event.

Thumbs Up bartender Bree Krowlek said this was her second Oktoberfest tending bar, and she did not think the beer garden interfered with business.

“The weather on the other hand … you can’t control that,” she said.

Fat Cat’s bartender Shad Arenette agreed that cloudy skies on the opening day of Oktoberfest probably hurt sales more than the festival’s new beer tent.

“We did pretty good,” Arnette said.

Jessica Christensen, owner of Champs, agreed that business was good during Oktoberfest. But she had another concern.

She said bar security stopped 40 people from walking into Champs carrying beer from other vendors. She also said she saw people on the streets outside with open beers, which would be a violation of city ordinance.

Bridget Leech, executive director of the Business Improvement District, said the Oktoberfest beer garden was not the only beer vendor in operation during the fest. Sprecher’s Restaurant at the Cove of Lake Geneva Hotel was hosting its own event with outdoor beer sales.

Leech said the Oktoberfest beer garden had bouncers who were keeping patrons from leaving the fenced-in garden with beer.

Fest goers could take empty beer containers with them, however, and they may have refilled them elsewhere, she said.

Plastic boots

Keith Warnli of Round Lake, Illinois, was drawing down a boot-full of brew. The boot came with a lanyard that draped around the neck, so the fest goer would never lose touch with his boot, no matter how hard the wind blew.

Warnli did note one break with tradition.

“The boots are plastic,” he noted. “But then the kids can’t break them.”

Erin and Eric Steinman of Waukesha were making their first visit to Lake Geneva’s Oktoberfest, and, they noted, they’re big Sprecher beer fans.

“I have no complaints,” said Eric. “They’re samplers are very large,” he added, holding up a boot-full of Sprecher beer.

Luke and Jessica Longo, both of Chicago, were also attending their first Lake Geneva Oktoberfest.

“It’s nice to have the beer garden with the polka band,” Luke said.

Added Jessica: “The beer is good. This is good Oktoberfest fun.”

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.