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Former auto dealer and Festmaster Walt Hammond dies at 96



A long-time La Crosse businessman and Oktoberfest supporter has died. 

Walt Hammond was 96 when he passed away last weekend at a care center in La Crosse. 

Hammond had a long career as a car dealer, working at Kennard Buick for many years before owning Walt Hammond Buick, formerly on the Causeway. 

Hammond also set a record as the youngest Festmaster for La Crosse’s Oktoberfest, getting the honor when he was 48 years old in 1972. 

In recent years, he was the earliest Festmaster still surviving.

Walt Hammond and his distinctive handlebar mustache were said to be the inspiration for a drawing of an accordion player on one Oktoberfest button. 


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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