510 East Veterans Memorial Drive
La Crosse, WI 54602


Riverfest was established in 1983 to create and hold a family festival with "something for everyone".

Many times during La Crosse's history, celebrations were held in Riverside Park, even back to the very early days when fur traders and Native Americans met to trade and celebrate.

In 1979 and 1980, a 3 day Free Family Fun Frolic was held in the park as a promotion for the D.L.B.A. and Radisson Hotel. La Crosse Jaycees also held fireworks for many years.

The present "Riverfest" began as an outgrowth of all the previous festivals. In December of 1982, Phil Quillin, suggested to the chairman of the Tourism Committee, Mike Stout, that we establish a summer celebration around the 4th of July to allow families to stay home to celebrate the 4th.

Preliminary talks and ideas came from Mike Stout, Jack Clappier, Gary Roberts, Jim Burrows, Larry Quillin and Mary Waldsmith. Suggestions included continuing the fireworks, providing entertainment and a beverage tent, and somehow come up with the funding.

In January of 1983, a letter was sent to organizations, businesses and individuals by Mike Stout, setting up a meeting on February 8th. About 50 people attended the first meeting which eventually led to button sales and beverage sales to fund the festival. A food fair was also planned to help defray costs as was seeking donations from area businesses. Riverfest 1983 was run by an executive committee consisting of Mike Stout, Gary Roberts, Larry Quillin, Jeff Voss, Dick Williams, Jim Burrows, Jeff Francois, and Jack Clappier.

Since then, Riverfest has grown to 5 stages, 15 food vendors, over 180 hours of entertainment, hundreds of volunteers and over $60,000.00 given annually from festival funds to support local community groups.

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