2023 Mrs. Oktoberfest Regina Siegel
Photo courtesy of The Studio
Article by Brad Quarberg
Mrs. Oktoberfest encourages ‘kindness, always’
For years, Regina Siegel has cheered on her husband and three children in Oktoberfest parades. This year, they’ll get a chance to cheer her on as Mrs. Oktoberfest.
Siegel has been named the 2023 Mrs. Oktoberfest. She received the title during an evening reception at UW-La Crosse Saturday, Sept. 16. Siegel says it’s a tribute she didn’t expect.
“It is an absolute honor and privilege to be selected as Mrs. Oktoberfest 2023,” Siegel says. “I have huge shoes to fill as the women before me have exemplified the morals, values and dedication that have shaped our community into what it is today.”
Siegel says she was honored when friends nominated her for the position last winter. Months later, she didn’t think anything out of the ordinary when one of those friends, Mrs. Oktoberfest 2019-20 Darryle Clott and her husband, Marv, invited her to dinner to talk about her past experiences in education. Clott told her to bring along her husband, La Crosse County Sheriff John Siegel.
“As we were chatting, I went to unzip my binder to begin to share what I put together, and all of a sudden Marv stood up with a glass of champagne for each of us and we all joined him for a toast to what I figured would be friendship and a beautiful night,” Siegel explains. “Before I knew what was going on, 2017 Mrs. Oktoberfest Lynn Gundlach and her husband, Dan, popped out of nowhere and soon there were six glasses of champagne being raised, and the four of them toasted me as Mrs. Oktoberfest 2023.”
Siegel, a UW-Stevens Point education graduate, spent more than 20 years in the education field in La Crosse, along with central Wisconsin. She also holds a master’s in educational leadership from Marian University and a superintendent’s licensure from Viterbo University.
Siegel comes from a family of educators. Her parents, Bob and Maggie Larsen, were a school counselor in Oak Creek and teacher in Racine, respectively. Her maternal grandparents — grandma was valedictorian of her class — were dairy farmers who helped instill a love of learning and strong work ethic. In 2018, she was named vice president of organizational development at Trust Point, headquartered in La Crosse.
Siegel has served on many local, regional and state boards and committees. Among them: The Children’s Museum, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, Girl Scouts of Riverland Council, Governor’s Task Force on Education, and various school and university groups. She is also an active member of the Rotary Club of La Crosse and is currently president of the Rotary Works Foundation.
Throughout her career, Siegel says she has enjoyed building relationships and serving others, whether as an educator, working with a client on their finances, or mentoring young professionals.
“I’ve also focused on giving back to the community and sharing the love of volunteerism and giving with others,” she says. “My husband, John, and I have been blessed with opportunities to share that love with our children, and it has been magical to watch their desire to give back become integral parts of who they are.”
Siegel has selected “Be Kind…Always!” as her theme for the year. She says people encounter difficult things daily — and that we often don’t know what trials others are experiencing.
“I encourage everyone to strive to share a kind and generous heart because you may be the one and only positive person someone encounters in any given day, week, month or longer,” she notes. “Kindness shouldn’t be reserved for just friends and family members. Kindness is important for everyone, including those who don’t look, act or believe the same way that you do.”
Siegel says she added “always” to her message because while it is easy to be kind when in a good mood and with those we know best, it can be challenging to treat others kindly on your own bad days.
“If we all lived by this motto, our local and global communities would be even stronger and things like road rage, bullying and racism would be much less prevalent,” she says.
Shortly before she knew she was Mrs. Oktoberfest, Siegel took part in an ancestry test. She discovered she is at least 20% German, with origins likely from Bavaria where Oktoberfest originated.
She says that discovery makes the honor extra special — and possibly explains why she’s enjoyed Oktoberfest activities as long as she can remember, including the royal family visits while she worked in education.
“When I was the principal of Emerson Elementary School in La Crosse, one of the highlights of the year was always the visit from the Oktoberfest Royal Family where Crazy George led the entire staff and student body in songs and stories of Oktoberfest and our outstanding community,” she says. “It’s incredible to think that I’ll now be a part of that merriment as we visit so many schools, nursing homes and other organizations throughout the area.”
Siegel anticipates that her curious nature and love for meeting new people and hearing their stories will fit well with the Oktoberfest Royal Family’s agenda for the upcoming year.
The Regina Siegel file
- Vice president of organizational development, Trust Point. Previously more than 20 years in education, including principal of Emerson Elementary School, 2002-12 and director of pupil services for the School District of La Crosse, 2012-18.
- Married to John Siegel, La Crosse County Sheriff.
- Three adult children who are all Logan High School graduates: CJ, who attends the University of North Dakota; Antonio, who lives in La Crosse; and Jasmine, who attends UW-Green Bay. Newest family member: Grandchild Brinley, born July 28, 2023.
- Among her current service: Viterbo University Board of Advisors; Bellin/Gundersen Health Systems Corporate Board; Rotary Club of La Crosse; Rotary Works Foundation Board; English Lutheran Church.
- Among her past community and volunteer service: City of La Crosse Ethics Board; Children’s Museum of La Crosse; Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse; Salvation Army; Girl Scouts.
Former Mrs. Oktoberfests
|Year||Mrs. Oktoberfest||Mr. O|
|2014||Sue Dillenbeck||Jim (Dilly)|
|1999||Eleanor St. John||Perry*|
|1989||Jean Gitz Bassett|
|1980||Alma Burns Zahn*|
Mrs. Oktoberfest Fun
Who will represent La Crosse as Mrs. Oktoberfest?
Nominations for Mrs. Oktoberfest 2024 are now open!
The requirements for a nominee should be a person who:
- Actively involved in the La Crosse Community
- Married or previously married
- At least 50 years old
- Living within 20 miles of La Crosse
- Able to devote her time to numerous Oktoberfest activities throughout the upcoming year
- A La Crosse and Oktoberfest enthusiast
- Aware that you are nominating them to be Mrs. Oktoberfest
The deadline for nominations is Friday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. All nominations must be made online, through the form link below. Nominees shall remain active in the candidate pool for three years, starting with the year of the original nomination. If you have questions about the nominating process, please contact Mrs. Oktoberfest 2021 Ilene Kernozek