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Yesterday in La Crosse

Riverfest makes its debut, 37 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse

Brad Williams

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The first four days of July in 1983 were set aside for a holiday festival in Riverside Park, called Riverfest.  Organizers were hoping it would become a yearly celebration.  On the Mississippi, you had water skiing shows, the Venetian parade, and trips on the La Crosse Queen.  There were helicopter rides, sky divers, and square-dancing exhibitions, and comedy by Heart of La Crosse.  Bill Miller and Al Townsend’s Jazz Band performed at the park, and singer Melissa Manchester was at the La Crosse Center.   

Sally Ride became America’s first woman in space during a flight of the shuttle Challenger.  Ride was one of five astronauts on the six-day shuttle mission.  

Movie fans in the early summer of ’83 went to “Return of the Jedi,” “Flashdance,” “War Games,” and “Trading Places.”  For home entertainment, Dayton’s was selling a VCR for 329 dollars, and video game software for your computer, with games such as Munchman, T.I. Invaders, and Yahtzee.

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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