(Pictured above: Darin, Gunner, and Pam Skroch with Grenadier Generals Travis and Mandy Horstman) 

The 2016 Oktoberfest Special Fester is Gunner Skroch of Barre Mills. He was recognized at the “Tanz fur Alle” (Dance for All) held on Sunday, September 11, 2016, at All-Star Banquet Hall, and was welcomed by several previous Special Festers and many members of the current and past Oktoberfest families.

Gunner is a recent graduate of West Salem High School. Gunner enjoys different types of music and has a rather large collection of cds that includes everything from Metallica to Johnny Cash. Gunner also likes outdoor activities all year round. In the summer he likes to go swimming or out on the river for boat rides. In the fall he goes hiking in the woods with Dad. Wintertime means sledding at Ft. McCoy. But Spring is the busiest for him as he & Dad can be found in the woods every weekend picking morels and tapping maple trees to make homemade syrup.

Gunner also likes using his IPad or laptop to surf the web. He really likes Itunes and Google Earth. By using the Google Earth app Gunner has traveled around the world and has memorized highways, freeways and Co roads thus making himself a living GPS.

Gunner is also an artist. In 2008 he won the VSA Arts award. His artwork traveled the country for 3 years before coming back to WI where his grandmother bought it at auction. In 2015 Gunner was a featured artist in high school for a large abstract mural, and several smaller pieces, that he painted. All of his artwork is proudly displayed on the walls at home. Gunner was featured in the local newspapers for his art.

Most recently, however, Gunner caught the attention again of the newpaper and both local news stations. Last spring Gunner lit a section of the Hwy 16 corridor in West Salem blue on Autism Awareness Day for his Senior Exit Project. Several businesses throughout West Salem also displayed blue lights to show support.