Rice Lake, WI 54868



Not many of the younger generation of RiceLake residents would recognize the first annual Aquafest as being anything similar to what the event has evolved into today.

There was no grand parade, no Aquabug hunt, and no contestants vying for the Miss Aquafest title. Rather, there was a community songfest, band concert, parachute jumps and a MissRiceLake who was automatically crowned Miss Aquafest. Other events were harness, powerboat, stock car and canoe races, a water ski thrill troupe, children's games and rides and two dances.

Instead of the third weekend in June, which has become the traditional date for the annual event, the first Aquafest was held July 3-5, 1964., and featured a patriotic ceremony and fireworks display. In fact, it was similar to the Fourth of July weekend celebrations which are now annually held in Mikana.

Yet one thing has remained intact throughout the past 37 years--the Aquafest logo. Buttons and program booklets have also been made and circulated annually since the first event, and the buttons sold for a dollar even back in 1964.

FormerRiceLake resident William Mason, was the first general chairman of the Aquafest, and Jack Moullette was special events chairman. Reigning over the event was Miss Rice Lake Arloa Stoik, who was also crowned Miss Aquafest.

These are other members of the first Aquafest Committee, wearing unique Aquafest hats, promoted the event with a 6-car motor caravan throughout the region. The promotion must have paid off, for gross receipts from the 3-day festival came to $12,000, with a net profit of $2,000 to be used for promoting the second annual event. Not bad considering the committee borrowed $500 from the Chamber of Commerce to get started.

"We had good cooperation from everybody," recalled Mason. "We felt we owed something to the community, and that's how it started." Mason said Cumberland had the Rutabaga Festival, Ladysmith had Mardi Gras, La Crosse had Octoberfest, but RiceLake had nothing. So he suggested a festival and found himself as its first chairman. The name Aquafest was selected in a contest won by Carrie (Mrs. Jack) Moullette.

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