Thursday, October 26, 2017

CHAMPIONSHIP YEAR IN LA FARGE!

As the decade of the 1980’s came to a close, the little Kickapoo River town of La Farge would experience some rare community unity as three LHS teams had great success.  1989 would be a year to remember in La Farge.
In February of that year, the LHS boy’s basketball team captured a conference championship for the first time in 33 years.  The Wildcats, coached by Bob Constalie, won the Ridge & Valley Conference Championship Trophy with a perfect 14-0 record and finished 17-3 for the regular season.  The LHS squad was led by Seniors John Hamilton, Clint Howard and Chris Zahm with juniors Joey Niles and Brian Wheeler rounding out the starting “5”.  Senior Rod Hendrickson and junior Chet Wilson were key contributors off the bench and Tim Coggins, Cory Shird, Chris Vesbach and exchange student Guillaume Caudebec also were on the team.
The La Farge Wildcat squad was able to clinch the school’s first conference championship since 1956 with a 51-36 win at home over Seneca on February 9.  La Farge would finish the season with two more conference wins to conclude the perfect season in the R&V.
The Wildcats kept their dream season going in post-season play by capturing the WIAA regional title with three exciting wins.  La Farge opened tourney play with a 65-41 home win over Boscobel.  In the regional semifinal game played at Hillsboro, the LHS squad used a miraculous fourth quarter comeback to beat R&V Conference foe Desoto 62-55 in overtime.  For the regional final game, the Wildcats would travel to Kickapoo to face the Weston Silver Eagles.
Weston was the two-time reigning R&V champ in boys basketball before the season began, but La Farge pounded the Silver Eagles 61-41 in their first conference meeting played in La Farge.  In the next to last game of the season, and the first game after the Wildcats had clinched the conference title, LHS had won at Weston 53-52 as John Hamilton hit a three-pointer from near half court at the final buzzer.  Weston fans were sure that La Farge could not win a third time over the Silver Eagles. 
But they were wrong. The La Farge Wildcats added a WIAA regional plaque to their season by playing perhaps their best game of the year and pummeled Weston by a score of 76-59.  After the game, the La Farge fire trucks were at the ready to escort the champion Wildcats and their fans back into town as the team enjoyed some victory laps around the village. 
There was little time to get ready for the WIAA sectional opener.  Because of delays caused by earlier snowstorms, the regional final game with Weston had been pushed back to Tuesday night and the sectionals semifinal was to be played on Friday of the same week.  Wildcat fans soon scarfed up all of their allotted 700 tickets for the sectional game to be played at LaCrosse Central.  The Community Pep Rally held on Friday afternoon served as a great sendoff for the team.
Iowa-Grant High School proved to be too tough for the Wildcats and posted a convincing 76-47 win in the sectional semifinal.  (The I-G Panthers went on to pound Fall Creek 80-64 the next night to win the sectional and advance to state.)  Regardless, the community of La Farge had gone “all-in” to show support for their LHS Champs!  It would be one of several occasions in 1989 when the community of La Farge could come together to rally behind their local teams.
When the weather warmed to springtime, the Wildcat baseball team returned to its championship ways by capturing an R&V Conference co-championship with a 6-1 record.  Senior pitcher John Hamilton who posted a 10-2 season record on the mound led Coach Roger Hooker’s La Farge team.  Fellow Senior Clint Howard led the team in batting with a .578 average, while Junior Jason Parr batted .429, Hamilton hit at a .400 clip and fellow Senior Chris Zahm hit .388.  The Wildcats tied for the league title with Desoto.
The Wildcats kept up the winning ways in the post-season as they swept three games to claim the WIAA regional crown.  La Farge beat Bangor 9-7 and Brookwood 19-7 before traveling to far off Pepin to play Pepin-Arkansas in the regional finals.  Behind a strong mound performance by Hamilton, who struck out 13, the Wildcats prevailed by a score of 4-2.  The following week, La Farge lost to defending WIAA Class C champion Greenwood in sectional play to finish their great season with a 14-3 record.
When the new school year began in the fall of 1989, Wildcat fans would have another championship team to cheer on, but this time it was the girls from LHS capturing the trophy.  The LHS volleyball team coached by Gail Hanson captured the first girls’ team trophy in the history of the school by finishing tied for first in the R&V Conference.  Led by all-conference players Erika Thomas and Jo Lynn Deaver, the Wildcats tied with Seneca for the R&V title.  Other Wildcat players included Emma Bader (team MVP), Beth Rolfe (team MIP), Tine Smith, Kari Shird, Dode Smith, Jonel Kiesau, Michelle Donovan and Kelli Hamilton.
A key win in the volleyball season happened when La Farge traveled to Seneca in early October.  The Wildcats were riding an eight match winning streak and had not even lost a set in their previous five matches.  A large contingent of La Farge fans made the trip to Crawford County for the matchup between two undefeated R&V teams.  In the first game, both teams had leads at times, but La Farge prevailed 17-15 behind a strong serving game.  Defending conference champion Seneca then showed what they were made of by winning game #2, 15-0, and amazingly never once lost the service during the entire game.  The third and deciding match was close all the way with both teams playing their best.  Eventually it went to extra points and when the ball hit the floor for the last time and the scoreboard showed that La Farge had won 18-16, pandemonium erupted from the Wildcat team and fans.  It was the first time that La Farge had ever defeated Seneca in volleyball!

A week later, in front of a large crowd in the La Farge gym, the Wildcats clinched a share of the R&V championship by shutting out Ithaca 3-0.  Despite a road loss at Desoto the next week, Coach Hanson and the Wildcats were still happy to receive their conference championship trophy.  The La Farge fire trucks were out again to escort the historic team of girls back to town and the R&V co-champs and their fans celebrated with a victory party at the village hall.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Great Kickapoo river Flood of 1978 - Pt. IV

When the story of the La Farge dam controversy was broadcast on the CBS Evening News on Friday, October 13, 1978, a new chapter in the dam story seemed to unfold.  Introduced as “The Great Kickapoo Loggerhead” by news-anchor Roger Mudd, the video story as told by CBS newsman Bob Faw was compelling and emotional.  Seeing Ward Rose, Lonnie Muller and Bernice Schroeder relate details of the heartbreaking process of the dam project for many Kickapoogians affected most people who watched it.
            One of those affected was another CBS newsman, Charles Osgood.  Osgood, who hosted a radio show on CBS called “The Osgood File” wrote a poem about the dam project on the Kickapoo and read it over the air on his radio show later in October.  It is a long piece, as Osgood’s poems tend to be, but I want to include his ending here.  He wrote:
It’s been 43 years since the U.S.A.
Began to help Kickapoo out that way.
They spent nineteen million dollars and they built their road
And a great new bridge, as we already showed.
And they let all that farmland go to seed,
Where today there’s that acreage and sundry weed.
Still, the folks there in Kickapoo have the gall
To complain, showing little gratitude at all.
Congress got impatient and cut off the dough.
Building was stopped about three years ago.
The valley is frustrated, the people mad.
They’d settle now for what they one time had.

Uncle Sam’s embarrassed and his face is red.
And this week somebody in the White House said,
“Tell you what we’ll do in this Administration:
We’ll assign a task force in the situation.”
Nice of those folks in the capital city
To come right out like that and appoint a committee.
And who knows what that committee will find?
Whether to quit while they’re still behind,
Or to finish the dam for several million more
That they started out planning in the days of yore.

Well, we should tell you that which everyone in Kickapoo knows:
They still have the floods.  Oh, they have lots of those.
Plenty of flood damage – my, oh, my!
Fifty million dollars just this past July.
“I’m angry,” says a citizen, “indeed, I am!”
Now you know why they invented the expression: DAMN!

Soon after the CBS News coverage of the dam project by Bob Faw and Charles Osgood, President Jimmy Carter made the official announcement of the first public meeting of the joint federal-state task force to study options for flood control and economic development for the Kickapoo Valley.  Perhaps the features in the nationally broadcast CBS pieces had hurried the process along, perhaps not.
Bob Faw finished his video report on the La Farge dam project by saying, “a flood control project that controls absolutely nothing”.  Would the latest task-force study provide some answers for the dam at La Farge to control something?
Actually, many people in the community of La Farge were sick and tired of all the studies done on the Kickapoo Valley.  President Carter’s call for a new study elicited groans from many in the community, regardless of their position on the dam project.  Kickapoogians were weary of studies.  The problem of flooding in the Kickapoo Valley had been studied to death over a period that stretched back to the 1930’s.
President Carter’s Task Force on Kickapoo River Flood Damage Reduction held its first public meeting On November 16, 1978.  The meeting was held at the high school gymnasium in Gays Mills with nearly 200 people in attendance.  Colonel Ted Bishop of the Corps of Engineers acted as moderator for the meeting which featured representatives from various federal and state agencies.  In addition, Senator Gaylord Nelson also attended the meeting.
            In his prepared remarks, Senator Nelson told the gathering that the dam project at La Farge was dead.  “A dam is out of the question,” Nelson said.  “The project that is currently authorized fails to meet the administration’s economic and ecological tests.  The task force must develop a comprehensive, valley-wide plan that provides a higher degree of flood protection for many more residents.”  Senator Nelson added, “The task force’s review is the valley’s best chance.  The battle over the dam is finished.  We must move forward if anything is to be accomplished.”
            Colonel Bishop told the gathering that the Task Force was formed to find ways to relieve flood damage in the Kickapoo Valley without using structures such as dams or levees.  During the proceedings, Bishop continually asked people who were speaking to not discuss the dam project at La Farge as a possible option.  However, Col. Bishop’s admonitions had little affect on those who testified.
            Many people from La Farge spoke at the meeting.  Bernice Schroeder, speaking as a representative of KLOUT, spoke in favor of completing the authorized project and completing the dam at La Farge.  Schroeder said it was “a broken promise” to the former landowners if the dam was not completed.  She thought that if the dam was not completed then the lands should be returned to the former owners.
            Also speaking from La Farge for completion of the dam project were Roger Andrew, Bernard and Jeanne Smith, Palmer Munson, Olive Nelson and Esther Ziebell.  Palmer Munson, speaking as town chairman of the Town of Stark, spoke of the tax hardships for the people living in the township due to the government buying so much land for the dam project.  Munson also advocated for the completion of the dam, as did people from other places in the Kickapoo Valley.
Jim Coxe from Wauzeka called for the completion of a dry dam at La Farge, saying that such a structure would benefit everyone in the Kickapoo Valley during floods.  Carl Oppreicht of the Gays Mills Flood Avoidance Committee spoke in favor of construction of small retention dams along tributaries running into the Kickapoo River as well as completion of a dry dam at La Farge.
Vernon County Board member George Nettum admonished the members of the Task Force for the failure to complete the dam at La Farge.  He called the dam project the “biggest fiasco ever” and encouraged the Task Force members to include the completion of the dam at La Farge in future plans.
The Task Force recommendations did call for an expanded flood insurance program for villages in the Kickapoo Valley, crop insurance for farmers along the river, a valley-wide warning and preparedness plan, evacuation/relocation plans for Soldiers Grove, flood proofing and a levee system for Gays Mills and a federal/local effort to clear the river and tributaries of snags and debris.
However, the preliminary recommendations released by the Presidential Task Force in December included nothing about the completion of the dam at La Farge.  As Senator Nelson had said repeatedly throughout 1978, the dam project at La Farge was dead.    
And so it went.  For the next decade a variety of efforts were made to do something with the partially completed dam at La Farge.  Many politicians at the state and federal level tried to move the dam project in some way towards some sort of conclusion.  But it never happened.  “A flood control project that controls absolutely nothing.”

*                                  *                                  *                                  *

            To finish, let me write that a completed Corps of Engineers’ flood control dam north of La Farge that should have been completed in the mid-1970’s would have greatly lessoned the devastation of the flood of 1978, then the massive destruction from the flood of 2008, and now the misery of the flood of 2017.  That is what the dam was designed to do. 
The finished dam would not have curtailed any flood waters on Otter or Bear Creeks nor saved anybody’s washed-out driveway along those streams. The completed dam would not have saved Ontario from the ravages of the recent flood in July of 2017.  But we should also remember that five retention dams for the Ontario area were to be built as part of the project at La Farge.  If built, those retention dams would have lessoned the impact of the recent floodwaters on Ontario.

In the end, by not completing the dam or any of the ancillary parts of the federal project like the retention dams, the Kickapoo Valley was left to its own devises to cope with devastating floods.

The Great Kickapoo River Flood - Pt. III

The political fallout after the Great Kickapoo River Flood of 1978 was almost as prolific as the floodwaters.  State and federal elected officials were tripping over their wagging tongues as they tried to justify and even rationalize the failure of the unfinished dam at La Farge to have an impact on the flood.  Since the dam was supposed to have been completed several years before that great flood of the summer of 1978, and since the original purpose of the dam was for flood control, politicians who had delayed the dam’s completion had some explaining to do.  Looking back at those months that followed the Kickapoo Valley flood, it is interesting to note the variety of responses from the politicians.
As soon as the waters of the Kickapoo had settled back into its banks, politicians flocked to the valley to assess the damages.  Senator William Proxmire was the first to appear and met with municipal leaders in most of the Kickapoo Valley villages.  Vernon County Sheriff Geoff Banta escorted the Senator around the Kickapoo Valley under directions from the Federal Marshall’s office in Madison.  In La Farge, Proxmire talked with Village President Ted Erickson, La Farge Fire Chief Phil Stittleburg, KLOUT leader Roger Gabrielson and LaVerne Campbell, chairman of the Citizens For The Kickapoo. 
Despite the damages caused by the flood, Proxmire still refused to back the dam project because of high costs.  “Proxie” remained steadfast in his opposition to the completion of the project.  The Senior Senator from Wisconsin, whose withdrawal of his support for the dam project in September 1975 was the beginning of the end for the completion of the project, proved to be the first politician to visit the Kickapoo Valley after the flood.  But he was not the last.
Wisconsin Governor Martin Schreiber also toured the Kickapoo Valley soon after Senator Proxmire.  Schreiber had declared the entire area of southwestern Wisconsin, including the Kickapoo Valley, a disaster area even before the floodwaters had finished receding.  As Schreiber toured the valley, he paid particular attention to the damages in Soldiers Grove.  The Governor, who previously had been non-committal on finishing the dam at La Farge for even flood control, said soon after his visit to the Kickapoo Valley that he would support such a move if there were “a clear and concise showing that the dam is the option for flood control, for protection of property and people”.
1978 was an election year and Schreiber was a candidate for governor.  Two years earlier, Schreiber had been elected as Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, under then Governor Patrick Lucey.  When Lucey was appointed to be U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Jimmy Carter in April 1977, Schreiber became governor.  Although Schreiber was viewed as more of a friend to the dam project than Governor Lucey had been, Schreiber still would not endorse the completion of the dam.
  Governor Schreiber faced a challenge in his own party for the gubernatorial post.  David Carley, a Democrat running against Governor Schreiber, also toured the Kickapoo Valley in late July and criticized Schreiber for his lack of action on the dam project prior to the flooding.
  3rd District Congressman Al Baldus also came to the Kickapoo Valley after the flood.  Long a proponent of the “Dry Dam” option, which called for completing the dam at La Farge (without a lake) for flood protection, Baldus continued to call for the completion of the La Farge dam as a part of any future flood control solution for the Kickapoo Valley.
Senator Gaylord Nelson, long an opponent of the dam project, did not visit the Kickapoo Valley after the flood, but his office did release a statement saying that a completed dam at La Farge would only have made a 5% difference in the severity of the flood.  Where the Senator’s office found that miniscule number remained a mystery, although it was later attributed to the Corps of Engineers.  Nelson’s 5% damage figure and the downplaying of the value of a completed dam at La Farge for flood control brought much consternation in the La Farge area.  Local journalist Pete Beckstrand perhaps voiced the sentiment best when addressing some statements made by Senator Nelson’s aide, Jeff Nedelman.
Writing for the La Farge Epitaph newspaper, Pete Beckstrand found the statements from Nelson’s office amusing.  In his “Dam Lies” column in the July 12, 1978 issue, Beckstrand wrote, “It is a different world out there in the District of Columbia and nothing has made that more clear than Gaylord Nelson’s latest one-act play ‘Aide Jeff Nedelman Fires Wildly In The Dark With Both Guns Blazing’.  Nedelman’s latest poke is that the flooding at Soldiers Grove was so severe because of Otter Creek and Bear Creek below La Farge.  The Milwaukee Journal dutifully took that down and thousands of its readers no doubt believe it even though anyone who went through the flood just laughs at such statements.  It’s as if the 12,900 cubic feet of water coming through La Farge every second had nothing to do with the situation.” 
Beckstrand went on to add, “The Grove dikes held back what the creeks had to offer, including the West Fork, for two days.  But when the wall of water came down the valley from Norwalk, Ontario, La Farge, Viola, Readstown; that is what went over their dikes.  That water could be accurately timed as it went downriver from town to town.  That is the water that would have been held by the La Farge Dam.” 
Later, the Corps of Engineers came up with very different numbers for the impact of a completed dam at La Farge on the 1978 flood.  Corps estimates on the total damages from the flood in Vernon, Richland and Crawford Counties was $20 million.  An additional $7 million in damages occurred in Monroe County, but a dam at La Farge would not have affected those damages.  However, the Corps estimated that with a completed dam at La Farge and the accompanying levee systems at Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills, 80% of the flood damages to Kickapoo towns would have been avoided.  With only the dam in place and with no downstream levees, the Corps still predicted a decrease of 63% in flood damages.  The Corps also contended that the dike failure at Soldiers Grove, which devastated that town’s business district, would not have happened with a completed and functioning dam at La Farge in place.
In August, President Carter called for a joint federal-state task force to study the problems of flood control and economic development for the Kickapoo Valley.  The announcement came after a meeting with Senators Nelson and Proxmire and Congressman Baldus.  Governor Schreiber immediately offered state support for the task force.  Senator Nelson said, “The task force may provide our last chance for a comprehensive valley-wide solution to the problems along the Kickapoo”. 
Nelson continued to resist any attempts at finishing the dam at La Farge since President Carter also had vigorously opposed the project.  Nelson said, “Moreover, the dam would have violated federal and state water quality standards and its construction would have been halted by lawsuits.  Beyond all that, it would have provided no more than 5% flood abatement to Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills.  The dam was clearly not the answer to the real problems facing the Kickapoo Valley.”  Despite statistics to the contrary, Senator Nelson stuck to his 5% CYA number regarding the dam’s potential reduction of flood damages.

On Friday, October 13, 1978 a story on the La Farge dam project was shown on the national broadcast of the CBS Evening News.  CBS anchorman Roger Mudd introduced the video piece as “The Great Kickapoo Loggerhead” and newsman Bob Faw concluded the piece by describing the dam project as “a flood control project that controls absolutely nothing”. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Great Kickapoo River Flood of 1978 - Part II


The Flood of 1978 started to recede in La Farge on Sunday, July 2nd.  As the floodwater’s crest on the Kickapoo River moved downriver, the communities south of La Farge also felt the wrath of the flood.  Boats were the only mode of transportation on Viola’s Main Street, just as it had been for the floods of 1935 and 1951.  A partial dike system in Soldiers Grove failed during the crest of the flood there, devastating the downtown business district.  A new bank building in Soldiers Grove was nearly ripped in half, exposing the interior and the vault walls.  Almost every business and home in Gays Mills was inundated with floodwaters when the Kickapoo’s crest reached there.  Further downstream the villages of Steuben and Wauzeka also suffered heavy damages before the flood finally abated on Independence Day.  Every field of corn, tobacco, grain, and hay located on farms along the river from Wilton to Wauzeka were lost to the floodwaters.
In La Farge, the houses that had floodwater in them (some for the first time ever) included Gerald Anderson, Stanley Potter, Elmer Storer, Catherine Norris, Eva Clements, John Sokolik, Bob Sokolik, Ron Gabrielson (renting the JaDoul house), Reynold Waddell, Jim Campton, Gib Stevens, Harry Lounsbury, Ethel Burt, Maxine Kennedy, Bob Erickson, Lucille Yarolimek, Vera Campton, Bob Jacobson and Les Gillett.
Business places in La Farge that were inundated with floodwater included the La Farge Cheese Factory, Nuzum’s, Gary’s Texaco Station, Caucutt-Olson Plumbing, La Farge Epitaph newspaper, Jeffer’s Truck Sales, Kickapoo Antiques, Major’s Appliances and Nelson’s Garage.  Also suffering damage from the flood were the Town of Stark hall and shed, the La Farge village jail, and the new village hall and firehouse.
When Village President Ted Erickson met with state and federal officials a week after the flood, a list of 38 homes and 23 businesses in La Farge damaged by floodwaters had been compiled.  The total cost of the flood damage in La Farge approached $200,000.  That figure did not include agricultural losses located within the village, as several fields of tobacco and corn crops were lost to the flood.   
The school’s bus garage, located on Main Street in the old Fulmer’s Garage building suffered heavy damage from the flood.  The school buses had been moved out of the garage as the floodwaters rose and were kept in the parking lot at the United Methodist Church for nearly a week after the flood as repairs were made to the school bus garage floor.  Later, the school district also had more costly damages at the schoolhouse when a water main, weakened by the heavy rains, broke causing the elementary wing to be completely flooded.  
Floodwaters kept area roads and highways closed for days.  Water covered the old portion of Highway 131 at Seelyburg for nearly two days and caused major damage to the road.  (Whitey Barclay lost 27 pigs to the floodwaters at his Seelyburg farm.)  Highway 131 south of La Farge was closed for two days and almost one hundred yards of the highway were washed out below the new bridge at Lawton’s.  In addition, the sewer plant at La Farge was inoperable for more than 24 hours at the height of the flood and raw sewage was dumped directly into the river’s waters.  Many people boiled village water for drinking during the flood, but a DNR check on the village’s water supply on July 5th indicated there was no contamination.
Interesting stories and happenings abounded in La Farge as people had varied reactions to the great flood.  What happened to Roger Andrew’s tractor was one such story.  Roger had cattle on pasture along the east side of the Kickapoo River.  As the floodwaters filled the pasture, the beef cattle soon clustered on a disappearing high spot.  Roger drove his John Deere tractor over to the stockyards east of Calhoon Park and started to drive through the floodwaters towards his herd of cattle, hoping to guide them back toward higher land near the old railroad bed.  However, the tractor dropped into an unseen ditch and stalled out.  Eventually, Roger had to be rescued by a crew in a boat and his tractor slowly disappeared under the rising floodwaters.  Ironically, the cattle ended up swimming across the swollen river and found high ground on the west side of the pasture.
That could have been the end of the story of Roger Andrew’s tractor except that a crowd assembled in the Lions Shelter at Calhoon Park had witnessed the attempted rescue.  Many people came to La Farge that day thinking that the opening day of the 4th of July Celebration would happen.  Softball players and fans sat in the beer tent at the shelter (even though no beer was sold there) that day and watched as the tractor disappeared from view.  Soon a gambling pool was created as to when the tractor would reappear from the floodwaters.  Some time on the following day, Sunday, July 2nd, the tractor reappeared and a local softball player was a little wealthier with his lucky pick in the pool.
Members of the La Farge Fire Department had a hectic couple of days because of the flood.  Many members of the department had been called out after midnight on Friday night, June 30, when a downed power line knocked out power to the village for four hours.  Members of the fire department helped to provide alternate generator power to people using sump pumps to keep water out of their houses or businesses on that first night.  Later that night, firemen went to the Rockton area to help look for canoeists camped along the river there.  As the flood waters descended on La Farge the next morning, all of the fire trucks had to be moved out of the firehouse on south Silver Street.  Because the floodwaters made Highway 82 impassable to the west, two fire trucks from Viroqua came to the west end of the Highway 82 Bridge in La Farge.  The Viroqua trucks and crew would respond to any fire calls on that side of the river.
However, that evening, July 1st, tornadoes were spotted in the Viroqua area and the fire trucks and crew had to return to their hometown.  The La Farge firemen had to get a truck to the other side of the river.  Driving north with one of the fire trucks, La Farge Fireman Cecil Rolfe, looked for a way across the flooding river to get to the other side.  As he drove down 24 Valley Road, the roadbed, undermined by the heavy rains, gave way and the fire truck fell into a huge hole.  A wrecker had to be called to pull the damaged fire truck back to the village.  Many La Farge firemen remained on duty all of that evening after never having slept the preceding night.
The school gymnasium was used as a temporary shelter that Saturday night for some of the people displaced by the floodwaters.  Although finding cots for people to sleep on proved a problem, most people were happy to be high and dry on an air mattress with some warm blankets.  Other people who were chased out of their homes by the flood stayed in the KP Hall that night.  Many other people stayed with nearby family and friends.
Maxine Kennedy told me later that the Saturday of the flood in 1978 was the busiest day she ever had in her Main Street restaurant.  Part of the reason was that the A&W Root Beer Stand, that normally would have been open to serve food on that Saturday in July, was closed.  The popular root beer stand, owned by David and Kay Mick, had been struck by lightning during a weekend thunderstorm in mid-June.  The resulting fire caused considerable damage to the drive-in, so it wasn’t open to help feed the masses for the 4th of July Celebration.
When the Red Cross workers arrived in La Farge late that afternoon on July 1st, they immediately began handing out meal vouchers to be used at Kennedy’s Restaurant for people displaced by the flood and for the volunteers, firemen and other workers who were helping with the relief effort.  With the food stands not open at the 4th of July grounds, all those visitors also stopped at Maxine’s for a sandwich as well.  Maxine had to close the restaurant early that Saturday night because she ran out of food.
The 4th of July Celebration in La Farge actually did get going on Sunday, July 2nd.  Some events, like the tractor pull had to be cancelled (it took several days to find that swept-away eliminator in Norwalk) while others, like the Men’s Softball Tournament were changed to only include twelve teams.  (Mt. Tabor Bar won the men’s tournament, while the team from Valley won the women’s.)  A new event, the Mini-Marathon Race, was run on an altered course through the village, avoiding the muddy streets where the floodwaters had been.
The carnival hired for the celebration had quite a time getting to La Farge.  Most of the carnival rides were mired in floodwaters at Wonewoc, where they were set up prior to La Farge.  Eventually most of the rides and carnival stands made it to La Farge by the 4th of July.
The 4th of July weekend in La Farge became even more bizarre when there was a shooting over that time.  A man from Illinois was driving erratically and squealing his tires on the busy streets of the village, causing concern among local residents.  Several local people stopped the car and the man brandished a pistol, which he waved threateningly at them.  The man then sped out of town in his car with several local people in hot pursuit.  The Illinois man crashed his car into the ditch near Don Potter’s house east of La Farge.  Again the man pulled out his pistol as he departed his wrecked vehicle.  Don (Moose) Getter, using a shotgun that was in LaVerne Campbell’s car then shot the man to disarm him.  (Moose was not a village policeman at the time.)  The man from Illinois, who did not suffer a life threatening wound in the shooting was taken to Viroqua by ambulance guarded by sheriff’s deputies and later moved to the county jail.