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La Crosse’s Deke Slayton Airfest is back, but won’t be again, likely, until 2024

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Blue Angel No. 7, the Navy’s Blue Angel F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, parked outside the Colgan Air Services Hangar on Friday, March 26, 2021 (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

It’s been seven years since there’s been a Deke Slayton Airfest in La Crosse, and it won’t be until 2024 when there’s another.

As one of the Blue Angels jets landed Friday in La Crosse, the Airfest announced its plans for the summer show.

This year’s fest will happen on June 12-13 and will be a drive-in format. More details can be found by clicking here.

The show hasn’t happened since 2014 for varying reasons — COVID-19, road construction and not having a featured act, like the Blue Angels. And, that’s precisely why there won’t be another Airfest until 2024.

“We put in our application for 2022 and ‘23, and we already know we don’t have a team for those years,” Airfest coordinator Bruce Mathews said. “So, (2024) would be our next option.”

Without a fly team like the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, Mathews said the show doesn’t make enough money to break even. He said there’s a possibility La Crosse could get a team if there were a cancellation but added it would be a long shot.

“They’re scheduling two years in advance now and so we kind of know pretty well ahead of time,” Mathews said.

He added they were trying to get a team last year but, almost luckily because of the pandemic, they didn’t. The Blue Angels were scheduled to be in Eau Claire on the weekend the Airfest had planned.

Losing out on the fly team for the next two years is just kind of how things are — there are only so many teams and so few weekend to hit everyone across the country.

“It’s just how the teams rotate and they pick different areas,” Mathews said.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kris oanes

    June 10, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    It saddens me that the promoters found it necessary to lump the car occupancy all together making it unaffordable for couples and singles to attend. It’s been a great show in past years! But the advertising and expense per person for attendance has been unbelievably short sited.

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