Octoberfest, a 22-year tradition for the town of Appleton, seems to have lost its original message of community support and respect. The celebration, which was originally established by the Appleton Downtown Retail Association in 1981, was created for the town of Appleton and its economy to “promote their businesses, improve the community image and showcase Downtown Appleton,” according to the Octoberfest Appleton website.
Profits from the event are donated toward the improvement of the town in the form of “Christmas lights, concerts, ADI technology, electrical service in Houdini Plaza, a radar speed detector, an early warning weather monitoring system, thermal imaging cameras for Appleton Fire Department, signage for the Children’s Museum, Art in the Park and Chamber of Commerce projects to enhance life in the Fox Cities.”
While these beneficial fiscal donations are still being made, it seems like the spirit of the event holds very little respect for the town itself.
A large portion of the celebration is held on and hosted by the Lawrence campus. Food and crafts booths are erected all over our Main Hall green and along our sidewalks.
Yet, while we are forced to tolerate such invasive festivities, the event seems to have little respect for the fact that we have to live, work, and sleep in this environment.
Entire dorms have been awakened to the sound of a bagpiper strolling along the sidewalk at 6 a.m. Door guards (a.k.a. volunteer students) have had to fend off belligerent locals attempting to enter the conservatory, which is closed off to the public during the event.
One student has even came home to her room to find an Octoberfest-goer passed out in her bed!
While Lawrence’s involvement with Octoberfest serves a beneficial role to the city of Appleton, it seems as though the students are the ones that end up suffering and paying in hours of sleep, compromised study time, and the general trust this university encourages, which is put on hold while the doors are locked to keep the “locals” out of our buildings.
The fact that the university locks the doors to all dorms and academic buildings is a good indication that the “powers that be” are aware of the inconvenience surrounding this event.
While ridding Appleton and the Lawrence community of the Octoberfest celebration would put an end to a valuable and charitable tradition, reforming the festivities might be an insightful solution to the issues raised by students.
Strategically locating booths might help to organize the activities. Food booth locations should be reconsidered especially, since many are located on campus and their patrons leave behind trash, wrappers, and discarded food.
Students would greatly appreciate seeing the Octoberfest crowd be more respectful of the campus and the Lawrence community, which continue to function through the weekend of celebration.
Now if we could only prevent kids from ambushing us with those marshmallow guns…