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La Crosse family a shining example of Oktoberfest 'Celebrating Generations' theme

By Pauleen Le, ple@wkbt.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:55:48 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 27 2013 08:14:05 PM CDT
The Ultimate Celebration of Generations

WKBT, News8000.com

The theme for this year's Oktoberfest is "Celebrating Generations," and one family in La Crosse is one of the ultimate examples of this theme.

Sisters Dana and Amanda Barbour look forward to the Oktoberfest celebrations every year.

“It's not just a tradition,” said Amanda Barbour. “It's a family tradition for us. We have a very large German family and everybody comes into town for this.”

They haven’t really missed a fest.

“I have only missed one Oktoberfest in my entire life,” said Amanda Barbour. “And I have not missed one,” said Dana Barbour.

But a group of people that might have them beat is the generation before them -- their parents and aunts and uncles.

“Wasn't it '67?” asked Linda Barbour-Wettstein, Amanda's and Dana’s mother. “'64, I believe,” Said John Wettstein, the girls' uncle.

They too, have never missed an Oktoberfest celebration since they were kids. That's all thanks to one special lady -- the matriarch of the family, 95-year-old Marie Wettstein.

“I never missed one since it started,” she said.

After 53 years, Marie can still remember what the very first Oktoberfest celebration was like.

“It was more quiet,” said Marie. “It wasn't big as this.”

Even though things have changed a bit, she still finds joy each year at the fest grounds surrounded by dozens of family members.

It's a sight that is priceless to her granddaughters.

“She's amazing,” said Dana. “(She’s) such an inspiration to all of us. She keeps our tradition alive of all of our family.”

This family tradition has continued for four generations -- including the grandchildren.

“I never thought of it ending,” said John Wettstein. “I hope it doesn't end,” said Linda.

And chances are, Marie will be a part of it again next year.

“If I'm living,” said Marie.

The family owns the Wettstein’s furniture, appliance and electronics store in downtown La Crosse.

Two family members have been asked in the past to be Festmasters. Both were very humbled by the honor, but decided to let someone else be in the spotlight.

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