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Yesterday in La Crosse

No Oktoberfest weekend? They tried it 46 years ago

Brad Williams



In 1973, the organizers of Oktoberfest made a scheduling move to cut down on the public drunkenness and crowds on 3rd Street of previous years.  The fest had been Tuesday through Sunday in ’72, but under the new schedule, the celebration opened with the Maple Leaf Parade on Sunday, October 7th and wound up with the Torchlight Parade on Thursday the 11th.  However, there were still dozens of downtown arrests on the two nights before Oktoberfest began.  

For the first time in almost a decade, the U.S. was without a vice president, when Spiro Agnew resigned on October 10th over a financial scandal in Maryland that took place before he was VP.  Agnew was only nine months into his second term…and under the fairly new 25th Amendment, President Richard Nixon could appoint a new vice president instead of leaving the job vacant.  Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and Nelson Rockefeller were mentioned as possible choices, but Nixon nominated House Republican leader Gerald Ford two days after Agnew quit.

Elvis Presley was granted a divorce from his wife Priscilla after six years of marriage.  She would get $1 million in the settlement.  During Oktoberfest, Tex Shell was playing the organ and piano at the Cavalier bar, and the Jack Hefti orchestra was at Walt’s Restaurant, in 1973, Yesterday in La Crosse. 

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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