The Draw of the Festival

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.

Notice how I gave Joe the bigger towel, I'm such a nice person.

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.

     First thing you gotta do when you get to the festival is get the lay of the land down.  A stroll along the scenic river walk is a great way to scope out what’s where and enjoy the elements of summer.

Stop for a scenic picture in front of the fountain!

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.

The Spin Doctors

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!

Ooooooh! Aaaaaah!

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!

25 responses

  1. Sounds like you had fun, Jess! We used to have the most fantastic fireworks EVER over the water between my quaint city of Alameda and Oakland, California. Then two years ago the Port of Oakland decided they couldn’t afford it any longer. So, no more fireworks. But guess what happened? People started coming out to the area alongside the water and setting off their own fireworks – crowd control courtesy of the Alameda cops. They let us shoot off our own fireworks but made sure everything didn’t get out of hand. It was fun!

    1. That’s awesome! I’m so glad your town joined together to do something like that. Several of the neighboring small towns around here had a similar issue and only were able to do very small shows or no show at all. I wish we’d banded together here to make our own show. Thanks for sharing that story!

  2. Sounds like fun- I live in Arizona- it was over a hundred- I hide all summer- being a redhead also. Festivals will start again in Oct when it’s not as hot- only 90

    1. That’s pretty cool. We do have an even bigger festival in September/October called Oktoberfest. Largest beer-oriented festival in the states, second only to the real Oktoberfest in Germany. I’m sure the crowds will be even bigger!

  3. I loved this! The biggest festival in my neck of the woods is the Texas Renaissance Festival. It’s *nothing* like this. Google it if you want to see what I mean. I used to attend in costume. Still do some years. Your festival sounds laid back and fun, a slice of local flavor.

    I’m going plead ignorance here: What are cheese curds? This Texas gal doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about. LOL

    1. Ooh I love a good costume party! I’d go to the Renaissance Fair with you!

      Cheese curds: Curds of cheese (the squeaky chunks of cheese) that are battered and fried to golden perfection. They are delicious.

  4. I love, love, LOVE the Spin Doctors – wish I had been there!

    1. They were really good! The lead singer kept doing these leg kicks above the microphone! And the solos by the drummer and bass player were just insanely amazing! Very talented musicians!

  5. I love the photos, Jess! Sounds like a fun holiday time. I hope you don’t mind me sounding like a mom, but you’re so damn cute! Love all your stories!

    1. Happy to make others laugh through my failed attempts at baking, sun survival, and procrastinating! 😛

  6. Best Festival Review Ever! Glad you had a good time. And hey, no injuries!

    1. Just a little sunburn. No E.R. visits! Woohoo! Should I hold an anniversary party or something? 1 month safe…

  7. “Two Princes” is one of my favorite songs ever! If you want to buy me flowers, just go ahead now… Catchy as hell! I’d have loved to have seen them play. We have a local six-to-sunset concert series around here, and Quarterflash played last year (and are coming back this year). Loved their show. What can I say? I’m a sucker for nostalgic rock ‘n roll.

    1. I’m so one of those people that get sucked into VH1’s I Love the 90’s.

  8. The fireworks look amazing.

    1. I always love em!

  9. This festival looks so intimate and fun! I’ve only been to festivals that have seemed out of control in terms of how many people there were. This looks so pleasant – there’s room to breathe but it’s still crowded enough to feel happening :D.

    1. Just wait till Oktoberfest! That’s when the policemen on horses come out!

  10. This looked like a blast! We didn’t do anything but hang out, stay home, go to see Transformers 3D, rent a few movies, and go to the pool. A festival like this would have been better.

    1. Ooh I just saw Transformers 3D. Very good! Cool effects, good story line, ok love plot, but you can tell they had to patch in the new girl a bit quick. Is it ok to be in love with Bumblebee? He’s my hero.

  11. Sounds like you had fun, Jess! Did you get to buy any souvenirs?

    1. My honey bought be a necklace and earrings from one of the vendors. They were made out of sea glass, a real pretty light blue.

  12. makes me happy to read your blog while I’m in Missouri 🙂

    1. You come home tomorrow! Yay!

  13. […] to the beach.  (I blame Wisconsin weather.  And working too much.  We still only got to the beach two times this year.  But we supplemented our outdoors time with hiking, oh that’s right, we […]

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