After seven years the Deke Slayton Airfest is back in La Crosse.
Airfest is proud and honored to host the U.S. Navy Blue Angels 75th anniversary flight this Saturday and Sunday — though you will likely see them practicing if you look up Friday.
We learned two months ago, this year’s Airfest will be a drive-in format, but a lot has changed since. There will now be food trucks and vendors, as well as some attractions on the ground for attendees to check out at the La Crosse Regional Airport.
“We will have food trucks on site and we will have a little bit of static aircrafts, some F-16s coming in from Madison,” Airfest media director Dave Larsen said Tuesday on La Crosse Talk PM. “They’re just going to sit on the runway areas that are visible for people to come up and walk around and look at.”
Obviously, the highlight in the air will be the Blue Angels, but on the military side, people will also get, likely, a first look at the F-35 Lightning II, which replaces the F-16 and has been nearly three decades in the making.
The crew just qualified to be an “Air Combat Command single-ship demonstration team” on Feb. 29, 2020 and pilot Kristin “BEO” Wolfe will be flying in Thursday and could be in studio on WIZM for La Crosse Talk PM at 5:07 p.m.
The aforementioned F-16 Viper Demos will also be performing.
Other aerial attractions, non-military, include:
- Michael Vaknin flying the Extra 300
- Vanguard Squadron multi-plane demonstration
- Dave Scott flying the Pitts S1S
- Grant Nielsen flying the CAP 232
- Kyle Fowler’s Long EZ aerobatics
- Erik Edgren: T-Clips Comedy & Aerobatics
Larsen said when looking at all the non-military performers, the most unique thing you’ll see in the sky will be Fowler’s 1986 Long EZ with the propeller in the back.
Now, a lot of people have said they don’t see the need to buy a ticket, because they can just sit on their deck and look to the sky. Larsen adds, you’ll be missing out not being there.
“The experience is not the same because you’re right there, you can’t hear the jet engines start up, you can’t hear that from the bluff tops,” he said. “We have a lot going on in the air, and we have a little going on, on the ground.”
Larsen added that those on the grounds will also love hearing announcer Phil Dacy call the show.
“He’s been at every single one of our Deke Slayton Airfests,” Larsen said. “He knows La Crosse. He knows the performers. He adds a voice to keep you excited when you’re out there on the grounds.”
The Airfest is also put on all by volunteers. Buying a ticket supports the flying teams coming in and helps bring the show back the next time a military team like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds are available — which isn’t until 2024.
Instead of having individual tickets this year, with the drive-in format, they will be per car. Tickets for each vehicle are $55 through Wednesday, before they jump up to $75.
Heading into the week, masks were going to be required but not anymore.
Gates open at 9 a.m. The show runs from about noon to 4 p.m. each day. Purchase tickets at www.airfest.com — or at the gate.
For information regarding hotels, restaurants and local attractions in the La Crosse area please visit www.explorelacrosse.com.