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Riverfest turnout this year to help with last year's losses

By Pauleen Le, ple@wkbt.com
Published On: Jul 07 2013 05:25:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 08 2013 08:25:34 AM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

It won't be long before signs of the Riverfest celebration will be all but gone down at Riverside Park.

Crews started the tear down bright and early Sunday after the three days of celebration.

Final numbers aren't in yet, but organizers said they had a good turn out this year.

The turnout will help put a dent into making up for last year's losses.

Kyle Olson of the La Crosse Jaycees says clean-up is a little bit more satisfying this year, knowing thousands turned out for the celebration.

“Just the turnout from the last couple of nights, we haven't seen crowds like that in several years,” said Olson.

The crowds were a big change after last year's heat kept the park pretty empty.

“It was pretty, pretty thin,” said Olson. “It was a pretty thin year.”

The La Crosse Jaycees are just one of the several organizations that benefits from the proceeds collected during Riverfest.

“A lot of these money that we get in go to pay some of our rent, some of our utilities -- whether it be phone bill or internet -- all that stuff so that way we can continue to serve the community in other ways,” said Olson.

Last year, Riverfest saw a 40 percent drop in proceeds because of the extreme heat.

While final numbers aren't in yet, Riverfest's media director, Nick Bjerke, said this year was much better.

“It wasn't a failure by any means,” said Bjerke. “It was a good year for us, but we wanted this great and awesome year. We're hoping it turned out that way from last night, but we haven't gotten those numbers in yet.”

Even with a good year this year, Bjerke said it may take a few years before they can fully recover from last year's losses, but Olson said this year is giving them a good start.

“I think this will be a good rebuilding year, especially after this year,” said Olson.

One thing that did not work in favor of Riverfest this year was the high river level.

Organizers canceled the water ski shows for the first time in as long as they can remember, but they said the other water shows still drew in pretty big crowds.

Bjerke said cleanup should be finished by Monday and final numbers on attendance and proceeds collected should be available in the coming weeks.

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