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Yesterday in La Crosse

A head start for one candidate at Oktoberfest, 50 years ago

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One year before the ’72 presidential election, South Dakota Senator George McGovern visited La Crosse during the fall fest.  At the time, McGovern was one of several Democrats challenging Republican President Richard Nixon for re-election.  But McGovern would become his party’s nominee the following summer.  McGovern toured the festgrounds for about 20 minutes, and gave a campaign button to the wife of La Crosse Mayor Peter Gilbertson, who was in his first year on the job.  

La Crosse Festivals director Jerry Miller said more festgoers than ever were participating in some of the traditional Oktoberfest events in ’71, such as horseshoe pitching and square dancing.  Arrests were down from the year before, but the Holiday Inn on the pike reported its worst damages ever for an Oktoberfest.   

Some TV shows ending long runs in 1971 included “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Green Acres,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” and “That Girl.”   

Janis Joplin had a number 1 hit five months after her death, with the song “Me and Bobby McGee.”  The group Dawn topped the charts with “Knock Three Times,” before there was even officially a group.  On that record, Tony Orlando was backed by studio singers.  Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson were hired so the trio “Tony Orlando and Dawn” could perform concerts in 1971, 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.