License to Cruise, Octoberfest return to Appleton after 3-year absence

License to Cruise kicks off another big event -- Octoberfest weekend
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Two big events are back in Appleton this weekend after a three-year absence.

The classic car show, License to Cruise, got underway Friday evening -- on the eve of Octoberfest in the city’s downtown.

There was a ton of excitement as the cars rolled down and lined up on College Avenue. Plenty of people were already enjoying the car show the moment it was underway.

About 100,000 people are expected at License to Cruise on Friday and another 220,000 Saturday for Octoberfest.

After missing out on the past couple of years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then a lack of volunteers, License to Cruise is back with about 60 cars on display inside the Fox Cities Exhibition Center and another 400 on College Avenue.

“This year is actually 30th anniversary of License to Cruise and the 40th anniversary of Octoberfest, and we did not want to do those two anniversaries until we could do it right, so this has been in the planning for three full years,” Becky Bartoszek, president/CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, said.

The theme this year focuses on Pontiacs.

Denise Clumpner from Fond du Lac has three cars on display. She says License to Cruise is unique compared to other events.

“I think that you find this is more of a community event as opposed to an event put on for a certain crowd of people, and so we tend to get a lot more kids, young people and those are actually the people we want to encourage to take up this hobby,” she said.

For the first time, the event is also including motorcycles.

License to Cruise’s head coordinator, Gary Rohde, explained, “We are going to introduce motorcycles a little bit this year. We want to get some of the younger generation involved here so thought we’d mix it up a little bit.”

Octoberfest on Saturday is also a major fundraiser for area non-profit groups and organizations, which have missed out on that revenue since 2019.

“When we do our calculations, over the past 40 years, we estimate it’s about $11.3 million that have gone back to our local non-profits from Octoberfest sales,” Bartoszek said.

Besides having food booths to support their cause, some also get a portion of the beer sales.

“Our Octoberfest committee, which is a volunteer committee, which has really driven this program for 40 years, has a grant program where they actually take proceeds from the beer sales and have a grant program where we give out approximately $55,000 to $60,000 each year to non-profits here in the Fox Cities,” Bartoszek said.

License to Cruise continues until 9:30 P.M.

College Avenue will remain closed through 6 P.M. on Saturday.

2 major fall events return to downtown Appleton after 3 years