There’s something about summertime that draws people out of their homes. Add a food tent, a BEER TENT, some vendors selling handmade crafts, several stages of live music, and a location along the water, why you have yourself a festival! Every 4th of July, La Crosse hosts Riverfest along the bank of the Mississippi River. You buy a button, you get in for the weekend and the vast playground of food, fun, and live music is yours to behold. I’m a sucker for a fireworks show and fried food, so naturally, we spent a lot of time down at the fest grounds.
I’m sure you didn’t know, but I happen to be a festival master. I think it’s the greasy food and people watching that attracts me. It could be my unending battle with the sun, trying to convince him he doesn’t actually hate me as much as thinks he does. Armed with my SPF 50 (I was feelin’ risky!), I kicked off the festivities by spending the morning at the beach across the river from the festival.
The bridges behind me are the double bridges of La Crosse that will take you from Wisconsin to Minnesota. Cross one, you’re in Minnesota, go back, you’re in Wisconsin. I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time in the Mississippi water, but it’s kind of exciting for a literary nut like me to be swimming in Mark Twain’s playground. 🙂 Now what did I do with my copy of Tom Sawyer. Random fact: In fifth grade, I played Gracie Miller in a play about Tom Sawyer.
I love the photo of the beach towels. Nothing cries relaxation more than a beach towel and a good book. I’m pretty sure there are weird species of mutated fish in this water, so when you do need to cool down, don’t drink the water. It’s called the Mighty Mississippi for a reason. It could kill you.
It’s not enough the water will try to sweep you away with its rolling current, the sand here is like oven temperature hot. This photo was only optional after coating my feet in the dirty river water. I’m going to
pretend be honest here and tell you my skin did in fact have color when I went in the water. I don’t know how I got so pasty white here. *Shifts eyes* Clever move, Mr. Sun, but I brought my Travel SPF! MUAHAHAHA!
You’ll know you’ve arrived at Riverfest when you get to the park and see tarps staked down all over the lawn. These tarps represent the exact locations that specific people will be watching the fireworks. Do not mess with the tarps, they’ll know it was you. And people here stake their claim DAYS before the fireworks. I’ve always been more laid back. I’ve watched from the beer tent, by the park entrance, and anywhere the said families won’t notice me sneaking into.
Next step: Brave the crowds of people. But it’s early, they won’t be too bad just yet, unless you’re trying to order some cheese curds, that line will forever be the longest line you wait in at the festival.
The live music at a local festival isn’t what you’d expect at a state festival. There aren’t tons of big names here. It’s mostly cover bands, a lot of oldies, and oddly, we have cloggers? The bands we saw at the festival included Sell Out, Monkey Wrench, Stand, The Executives, Hans Mayer and the Hot Sauce Trio, and the one forgotten but welcome big name band that came this year, Spin Doctors. The Spin Doctors had two big hits come out in the 90’s, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong and Two Princes. Their big album was Pocket Full of Kryptonite which for the first time ever in the States, in Wisconsin no less, they played in its entirety at our festival! With all its original members, the band was pretty amazing. The lead singer did these high leg kicks over the microphone stand and he’s got to be in his 40’s. It was impressive; I couldn’t do it! The guitarist was awesome. They let the drummer and bass player do some really funky solos, and lo and behold to us, they use to be a blues band and ended the night with some of their old blues tunes.
Part of having fun at a festival involves getting hokey with your sense of humor. Around here, the celebrations begin with the Fest Master, but since it’s a Riverfest, we have titles like Commodore and First Mate. You’ll see them walking around in uniform and wearing lots of schwag and old vintage Riverfest buttons. So of course when they provide you with a photo op like this, you simply must take it! Presenting Commodore Joe and his First Mate, Jess. Don’t we look like characters from Gilligan’s Island here?
Last but not least, if it’s going to be a 4th of July festival, you’ve got to have a fireworks show!
Well, that’s what I did at the Festival. Highlights included Blue Moon beer costing only 1 ticket, dancing to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition (my favorite song), chilling at the beach with the new book club book, and definitely watching the Spin Doctors!
How did you celebrate the holiday weekend? Going to any festivals this summer? Wear sunscreen!