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On 40th anniversary, La Crosse’s Riverfest names Jake and Jessie Erickson Commodore, First Mate



Riverfest Commodore Jake Erickson and First Mate Jessie Erickson are welcomed by Riverfest volunteers at ceremony on May 17, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

La Crosse’s Riverfest introduced Wednesday its Commodore and First Mate for the 40th anniversary festival this year.

Jake and Jessie Erickson were announced as the new royalty at Celebrations on French Island.

Last year, the announcement took place at the end of April. The Ericksons have known about the Riverfest honor since January.

Riverfest was first celebrated on La Crosse’s riverfront in the summer of 1983, and always includes July 4th, usually concluding on that date, which falls on a Tuesday this year.

Jessie and Jake Erickson of La Crosse speak with reporters about Riverfest on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

The Ericksons will officially assume their titles at the Commodore Dinner on June 13.

Riverfest runs from June 30 to July 4 at Riverside Park.

The Commodore announcement is a tradition that usually happens in mid-May, shortly before Memorial Day.

There was no Riverfest in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic and the identities of the Commodore and First Mate chosen for that year remained a secret until the 2021 festival.

Jake Erickson’s day job is running the La Crosse Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse. Jessie is an account manager with Dalton Education.

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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