Safe and Fun Oktoberfest

History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest began in La Crosse in 1961 and is a long standing La Crosse tradition that brings the community together. This German tradition started in Munich, Germany and continues to be a time of cheer and celebration. 

To learn more about Oktoberfest in La Crosse, please visit

During Oktoberfest, many students make safe and smart decisions around alcohol use. This website is a resource to support students in making those decisions so that everyone stays safe and healthy during this event.

A photo of UWL's Child Care Center Oktoberfest Parade.


Torchlight Parade

When: Thursday, September 26, 7-9 p.m.
Where: La Crosse's Northside on Caledonia Street
What: See more information about the parade route here

Turned Leaf Family Festival

When: Saturday, September 28
Where: Myrick Park


When: Friday, September 27, 7:30-11 p.m.
Where: Recreational Eagle Center
What: Free food, games, and prizes! This event is open to Viterbo and WTC students.

Maple Leaf Parade

When: Saturday, September 28, 10 a.m.
Where: See the parade map here
What: Oktoberfest's largest parade. See community groups celebrate and come together. 

UWL's Vanguards in the Maple Leaf Parade

Safer Drinking Strategies

At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, we encourage students to be safe and smart when using alcohol. As a reminder, the legal drinking age is 21. For students who choose to drink, here are some tips for staying safe and healthy.

Recognize the signs of alcohol overdose.

Anyone experiencing alcohol overdose needs medical attention right away. They cannot safely "sleep off" the effects of drinking too much alcohol. Signs of alcohol overdose include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulty remaining conscious, or inability to wake up
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing 
  • Irregular breathing 
  • Slow heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Dulled responses, such as no gag reflex (which prevents choking)
  • Extremely low body temperature, bluish skin color, or paleness

Call for help if you or a friend need medical attention.

In order to encourage students to call for help if someone may be in danger from alcohol or drug use, the Responsible Action Policy protects the caller from Police citation and/or university discipline for alcohol-related offenses. Learn more on the Responsible Action Policy page.

Use safer drinking strategies.

Safer drinking strategies can lower the harm you may experience as a result of drinking alcohol. It is important to note that scientists have determined that there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume, but these strategies can help reduce the risk of experiencing harm.

These strategies include: 

  • Practice saying "no" when offered a drink that you don't want to consume
  • Know your limit - the amount of alcohol that you can drink and remain comfortable and in control
  • Keep track of and pace your drinks (remember, a standard drink is one 12-oz beer, 4-5oz of wine, or 1-1.5oz of hard liquor)
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
  • Eat before and during drinking
  • Never drink and drive
  • Know what's in your drink, and always pour your own drink
  • Know your family history and your risk for alcohol use disorder
  • Drink in moderation (fewer than 3 drinks per day/7 drinks per week)
  • Do not combine alcohol and other drugs
  • Never force anyone else to drink
  • Sign up for a free BASICS appointment to discuss your alcohol use in a private session with the Coordinator of Student Wellness

We also encourage you to sign up for RAVE alerts through the UWL PD to receive timely warnings about crimes that may pose a threat to the safety of students and staff. Sign up for RAVE here.


Wisconsin State Statute

Per Wisconsin Statute 125.07(4) the consumption of alcohol is restricted to individuals who are 21 years of age or older.

This is strictly enforced by the University Police and the La Crosse Police Departments. Sanctions are applied from UWL Residence Life and/or Student Life if students are found to have violated drug policies and/or laws. Information about fines can be found in the Student Handbook within "Policies and Procedures - Alcohol Policies and Fines."

UWL Police Department

The University Police Department works to strictly enforce the drinking age of 21 years of age or older. For more information, please see the Student Handbook within "Policies and Procedures - Alcohol Policies and Fines." For an example of an underage drinking citation, please click here: Example_Underage Citation.pdf. 

UWL PD would like to provide a reminder that driving while intoxicated can lead to coordination loss, impaired judgement, and distorted vision. The average cost of a OWI is $10,000. There are 300,000 incidents involving drinking and driving everyday. Students have several transportation options available to them, such as: MTU Safe Ride (free), Uber, Lyft, Saferide (ask any bartender for details), and taxi cabs. 

If you encounter the police, please be sure to fully cooperate. The UWL PD are here to support your health and safety and can help you learn from your experiences if you cooperate.

Residence Life

The following activities are not permitted:

Under 21 years of age:

a)    Possessing and/or consuming alcoholic beverages

  • State law prohibits the possession or consumption of alcohol by persons under the age of 21.

b)    Possessing or displaying empty alcohol containers

  • Residents are not allowed to have empty alcohol containers, defined as: cans, bottles, caps, boxes used for transportation, or items with alcohol residue.

Due to the Oktoberfest festivities in the city of La Crosse, UWL Residence Life will implement some measures to ensure a safe environment for our residence hall students. The full list of adjustments made during Oktoberfest can be found here. Please note, guests are not allowed in the Residence Halls during Oktoberfest weekend.