La Crosse’s Riverfest is just a couple of months away, and organizers are getting a jump on the festivities this year. Instead of waiting until around Memorial Day to announce a new Commodore and First Mate, Riverfest is introducing Citizens State Bank CEO Dennis Vogel this week as the leader of the 2022 celebration.
Vogel and his wife Kari, named First Mate, were introduced publicly at an event on French Island Thursday. Because of COVID-19, there was no Riverfest in 2020, and a commodore was not named in 2021 because organizers weren’t sure there would be a festival, but it was held as planned.
As always, the fest workers find tricky ways to tell a new Commodore that he has been chosen. Vogel says he learned of the honor a few months ago, when some Riverfest officials asked him for what he thought was financial advice.
“So right away, my mind’s going, oh yeah, what about this place, what about this place,” says Vogel. “Well, then I find out that is a small part of their need. ‘Really, you know, YOU could help us. You could be a Commodore and really help us.'”
Dennis says he and Kari felt the timing was right for them to serve as Commodore and First Mate, because they have young kids, ages 13, 11, and 7, who will really enjoy the experience.
“Create a memory that they’ll never forget,” Vogel says. “People would dream about having that opportunity, and that was something that was like, we’re going to do this.”