2023 Festmaster & Frau – Jeff & Amy Wrobel

Article by Brad Quarberg

La Crosse native Jeff Wrobel named Festmaster

The big sports day last spring wasn’t panning out for Jeff Wrobel and his wife, Amy. They had headed to a local sports bar for opening day, but the Brewers lost to the Cubs. At their next stop, they watched as Bucks lost to the Celtics — by 41 points.

Then, shortly after they got home, there was a knock at the door. A dog tied to a post by the front door was wearing a dirndl, with an envelope and white feather nearby. Past Oktoberfest Festmasters and Fraus Joe and Barb Kruse and Tom and Marilyn Tiggelaar appeared around the corner of the garage to ask if they would like to be the 2023 Oktoberfest Festmaster and Frau.

“It had been a disappointing day, but it certainly turned around quickly and ended on a very high note,” says Wrobel.

The La Crosse couple are as much of Oktoberfest fans as they are of Wisconsin sports. As city natives and graduates of Central High School, they have attended Oktoberfest all their lives. They were members of the Grenadier Corps in the late ’90s to early 2000s, serving as Grenadier Generals in 1998-99. And they have only missed one Festmasters Ball since 1994.

Wrobel says they are ready and excited to be heading up the many activities during this year’s Oktoberfest.

“We look forward to spending time with and getting to know the 2023 Royal Family and all the other great people involved with Oktoberfest,” he says. “And we are excited about meeting new people from the other festivals who attend Oktoberfest, as well as making new friends when attending all of the out-of-town festivals and parades in the coming year.”

After graduating from Central in 1978, Wrobel attended UW-La Crosse before transferring to the University of Minnesota where he graduated with a degree in accounting. He returned to La Crosse to begin his career at Rau Oil Company. After working there for five years, he joined Kwik Trip in 1988, where today he works as the convenience store company’s Chief Financial Officer.

“I’m proud to have worked for Kwik Trip for 35 years and been part of the significant growth the company has experienced along with the great impact it has had on the La Crosse community,” he says.

When he returned to his hometown Wrobel also met and fell in love with his best friend and future frau. They have been married 39 years and have lived in the same south side home for over 30 years where they raised their two daughters who are also Central graduates.

Wrobel has also been very involved in the community. Among his service: the Western Technical College Accounting Advisory Committee for over 20 years, the La Crosse Area Development Corp. Board of Directors since 2010 and the La Crosse Industrial Park Corp. Board since 2017. Previously, he has served on the La Crosse Regional Airport Aviation Board, the Coulee Region Business Center Board and the Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area Board.

Wrobel also enjoys supporting his Frau with the animal organizations she is involved with, including the Coulee Region Meow Mission and the Coulee Region Humane Society. They have been active with the La Crosse Central High School Show Choir Booster Club and have served on the Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Council.

“Our most favorite volunteer activities were those that involved our entire family, such as the Central High Show Choir Booster Club to support our daughters and their friends while they were members of Central Connection and Grand Central Station, along with the Oktoberfest Grenadier Corps,” he notes. “We have made lifelong friends by being involved in these two organizations.”

Wrobel says his button design focuses on the things that have been very important to his entire family. Included are Wisconsin sports teams, Kwik Trip, animal welfare and Central High School, along with their cabin in northern Wisconsin.

The Jeff Wrobel file

  • Born and raised in La Crosse; attended Harry Spence Elementary School, Longfellow Junior High and Central High School.
  • Attended UW-La Crosse, accounting degree from the University of Minnesota.
  • Married to Amy, also a Central grad, for 39 years.
  • Two daughters: Emily, a teacher who lives in Franklin; Hannah, an attorney who lives in Madison.
  • Began his career at Rau Oil Co.; joined Kwik Trip in 1988, currently is Chief Financial Officer.
  • Among his current and past community service: Western Technical College Accounting Advisory Committee; La Crosse Area Development Corp Board; La Crosse Industrial Park Corp. Board; La Crosse Regional Airport Aviation Board; Coulee Region Business Center Board; Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area Board; La Crescent Animal Rescue Board.
  • Recipient of LADCO’s 2021 Distinguished Service Award; Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year.

Former Festmasters and Fraus

2022-2023Douglas KrattKimberly
2021-2022Tom TiggelaarMarilyn
2019-2020Terry CowgillShelly
2018-2019Mike KeilKaren
2017-2018Brian RudeKaren
2016-2017Joe KruseBarbara
2015-2016Chuck RothLuAnn
2014-2015Scott HorneSue
2013-2014David RingDenise
2012-2013Brad SturmLynn
2011-2012Jerry KemberNan
2010-2011Ed PrzytarskiEileen
2009-2010Todd OndellDeb
2008-2009Mike WeissenbergerJoan
2007-2008Peter KrauseKrin
2006-2007Terry CollinsKarolyn
2005-2006Peter StinsonSally
2004-2005Ted DewaldMarlene
2003-2004Chris WeissBeth
2002-2003Bill LeonardKay
2001-2002Tom SleikJudy
2000-2001Lyle QuillinSandy*
1999-2000Rollo Taylor*Kay
1998-1999Steve WebsterKatie
1997-1998Duane MooreJan
1996-1997Deak SwansonJeanne
1995-1996Howard Voss*Bernadine
1994-1995Al Becker*Anne
1993-1994Bill Otto*Mary Jo
1992-1993Bill Larkin*Jan
1991-1992Karl FriedlineMarcia*
1990-1991Duane Taebel*Carol
1989-1990Russ Cleary*Gail
1988-1989Steve Pavela*Marian*
1987-1988Alex Skover*Fran*
1986-1987Harry Wiggert*Beverly*
1985-1986Carl "Cully" Rebhan*Ruth*
1984-1985Bernie Degen*Barbara
1983-1984Quinn Johnson*Lorraine*
1982-1983John Mooney*Nettie*
1981-1982Bob Mullally*Mary Ann*
1980-1981Joe Ludden*Lyn*
1979-1980George Frost*Jan*
1978-1979Wally Rose*Helen*
1977-1978Art Dugan*Leona*
1976-1977Dave Hammes*Betty*
1975-1976Sam Hagerman*Betty*
1974-1975Jack Custer*M.J.*
1973-1974Dick Beggs*Evalyn*
1972-1973Walt Hammond*Sally*
1971-1972Joe Rohrer*Evelyn*
1970-1971Cully Prinz*Dorothy*
1969-1970Hans Zoreb*Belle*
1968-1969John Thomas*Gretchen*
1967-1968Jack Martin*Elsie*
1966-1967Lincoln Neprud*Laura*
1965-1966John Coleman*Adelheid*
1964-1965Roy Kumm*Hope*
1963-1964Ray Ping*Mildred*
1962-1963Don Rice*Lorraine*
* Fondly remembered

Who will represent La Crosse as the 2024 Festmaster?

The selection of the Festmaster is one of the oldest and most cherished Fest traditions. The selection process and naming of the new Festmaster is very secret and the mystery only adds to the fun!

The Festmaster heads the Oktoberfest Royal Family and is chosen annually by the Board of Trustees. Once selected, the Board of Trustees Chairman, along with the past year’s Festmaster, mentors the new Festmaster, bringing him up to speed on his duties, expectations, and appearances.

The new Festmaster & Frau are announced at the Festmaster’s Ball, held yearly in September.

Nominations for the 2024 Festmaster are now being accepted and will close on January 2, 2024!

If you know a man who is deserving, involved, and would be a great fit in our community-focused organization, submit your nomination below!

Nominations will be accepted for a man who is…

  • married
  • age 50 or older
  • a resident for at least 10 years within 20 mile radius of La Crosse
  • actively involved and well-known in the La Crosse community
  • has the time to devote to Oktoberfest activities!

The following information is required to complete the nomination:

  • Name of the nominee
  • Nominee’s address & contact information
  • Nominee’s biographical information – this would include such information as occupation, community or volunteer service, church involvement, professional activities, community or professional awards
  • Nominator’s name and personal comments as to why they have submitted nominee’s name

The final selection is made by the Board of Trustees however all nominations are kept on file for three years from the date of submission.

Click here to nominate your pick for 2024 Festmaster.