In July of 1988, Governor Tommy Thompson scheduled a week of state government events in the western part of Wisconsin. Thompson had a question and answer session one night at La Crosse’s Riverside Park. The next day, the La Crosse area hosted more than two dozen separate events involving the governor and other state leaders. Such as: breakfast and a lunch at the Radisson, tours of the NSP incinerator on French Island and the Company Store, an export conference, and a dinner cruise for regional government officials on the La Crosse Queen.
Ronald Reagan was finishing his second term in the White House, and his vice president, George Bush, would win the Republican nomination for president that summer. Both Bush and the Democratic nominee that year, Michael Dukakis, had been born in Massachusetts. Dukakis campaigned in Wisconsin shortly after his party’s convention, promoting himself as an economic problem solver.
At La Crosse’s Riverfest in 1988, you could enjoy folksinger John Prine, hypnotist Jim Wand, and the first year of the local lip-sync contest “Puttin’ on the Lips.” Inside the La Crosse Center that summer, teenage singer Tiffany performed for an audience of 3000. Her opening act was described in the Tribune as “five teenage guys in white shorts and Reebok sweatshirts.” At that time in ’88, not many people had heard of “New Kids on the Block,” but they would.