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Flashback: national acts rock Octoberfests of the 1990s

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Come Saturday, a wide variety of local and regional bands will provide a party soundtrack for upwards of 100,000 people crammed together along College Avenue. 

Hit the rewind button and you’ll find Octoberfest did things a little bit differently.

Valley Review went through the lineups of the 1990s to spark a few memories of the national acts that had Appleton’s Octoberfest on their tour itineraries.

In 1995, Eric Burdon — front man of The Animals — headlined the WOZZ Classic Rock Stage at College Avenue and Walnut Street. Road Trip, the long tenured and reliable Fox Valley favorite, led into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member who received his induction the year before.

In 1996, Badfinger — at least a semblance of the band still wringing value from the name — headlined the WOZZ stage, this time at College Avenue and Division Street. 

In terms of national names, 1997 was a banner year for fest fans and led to some difficult choices as the clock neared 4 p.m. and the headliner slots.

Country fans flocked to Houdini Plaza for Joe Nichols.

Iron Butterfly headlined the WOZZ stage. Information couldn’t be found as to whether In A Gadda Da Vita ate up three quarters of their set.

At the opposite end of College Avenue, Survivor set up on the WROE stage outside Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Moon Dog Mane, led by Frank Hannon of Tesla fame, played Octoberfest 1998.

Performances during the 1990s also included the 1993 visit from the Brothers Phelps, featuring Doug and Ricky Lee Phelps of the Kentucky HeadHunters. Up-and-coming country artist Jesse Hunter was part of 1994’s Octoberfest.

One big tie between then and now? Vic Ferrari — and they’ve since become the signature festival-ending act as they should be.

At Valley Review, we favor the modern format with more stages, more variety and more bands over the course of the day. 

There are plenty of other places to catch both nostalgia acts and national up-and-comers.

It’s a chance for those who don’t typically head out for live music to experience the great things going on in the region from the musical perspective. For the bands, it’s an opportunity to get in front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd.

And let’s not kid ourselves … is anyone staying home because there isn’t a national artist on the lineup? 

This year features another spectacular local lineup. Click here for the schedule, get planning and we’ll see you down there.

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