APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)-The return of one of the Fox Valley’s biggest festivals brought thousands of people to College Avenue in Appleton on Saturday afternoon.

After a two-year hiatus, Octoberfest is back in Appleton. Organizers had to cancel it in 2020 because of the pandemic and then last year they had to cancel it again because they didn’t have enough volunteers to have the event.

But the event was back in 2022 for its 40th anniversary.

“It’s just so awesome to be around people again,” said Ross Buckner from Appleton who was at Octoberfest Saturday afternoon with his sister, niece, and nephew.

He said he’s been coming to the event since he was a kid and loves German culture because he said its very inclusive. He said one of his favorite parts about coming to the festival is eating the cheese curds.

He said he has distinct memories of his dad carrying him around Octoberfest on his shoulder and in a bit of a full-circle experience he walked around the festival on Saturday afternoon with his nephew high up on his shoulder.

Buckner and the rest of the crowd packed onto College Avenue enjoyed live music, beer, food, and craft vendors.

Definitely extra special this year because we’ve been missing this and I’ve been waiting for this to come back around the last two years so I’m pretty excited for this to come back,” said Monicca Winters.

Organizers estimated that over 100,000 people came out to the festival on Saturday which provides a big boost for small businesses in the area.

Non-profit organizations also benefit because they get to sell drink tickets and wrist bands and the money they raise goes back to their organizations. The Appleton Noon Lions Club was one of the groups out there selling tickets.

“I didn’t know how much people missed it, but just looking at the activity at our booth you can tell that people are very happy to be back at Octoberfest,” said Dave Lee.