By: Anastasia Penchi


There are plenty of reasons for a community to celebrate a healthy downtown

A city’s downtown is often where its commercial, cultural and civic activities are located.

And in La Crosse, many of its downtown businesses are also owned by people who live in and celebrate this community. Therefore, they support activities like Downtown Main Street’s Historic Downtown Day on Oct. 14.

This event combines eating, shopping and entertainment with a little bit of history. Here are five things you can expect:

A free shoe shine

One of the unique offerings during this celebration is an 1860’s shoe shine stand, located near Howes Diamond Jewelers at Fourth and Main Streets. I can already picture the shoe-shiner working on shoes while that Johnny Cash song, “Get Rhythm” plays in the background. But, now that I think about it, I wonder how this will work since most people wear tennis shoes and sandals nowadays? Does anyone even own shine-able shoes anymore? Regardless, you’ll learn how shoes were really taken care of back in the day.

Historical reenactments

Learn more about people who lived and worked in La Crosse many years ago. Enjoy several reenactments throughout the day, you can see a full list here. One that might be of interest to you is Mr. Joseph Funke, Owner of Funke Candy Company from 12:30pm – 1:30pm. The reenactment will take place at the old Funke Candy Factory which now houses the ever popular Charmant Hotel and Restaurant at 101 State Street.

Chili peppers and ice cream

Fall weather means it’s time for chili, and one of the activities included in this occasion is the State Bank Financial 26th annual Chili Cook-off and Chili Pepper Eating Contest. There are plenty of other food-related activities, too. You can bob for apples at Crescent Jewelers. You can shop at the Cameron Park Farmers Market and the Humane Society Bake Sale. Or maybe you’ll be the lucky winner of a pint of ice cream every month for a year at the Great River Popcorn? Caramel Chaos here I come.

Music to move you

There will be lots of local music featured during this event, and you can even learn to play an instrument if you are so inclined. The Pearl Street Banjo Band will be playing some tunes, as will the Da Capo Band and several others. Watch some ClogJam dancing or see Misty’s Dance Unlimited students perform. The Cheez Land Uke Band will teach you to play the ukulele if you pre-register for its class. You don’t even have to tiptoe through the tulips to get there.

A ride in style

Interested in the transportation options of many years ago? If so, head to the intersection of Fifth Avenue and King Street for a free horse-drawn carriage ride. Kids especially seem drawn to horses. If that’s not their thing, take them to paint a pumpkin. Or a pinecone. Go to Scarecrow Alley at Cameron Park — there will be all kinds of activities for the kids to enjoy.

If you would like to see a schedule of entertainment options being held during Historic Downtown Day, visit the Web site at

Anastasia Penchi

Anastasia Penchi

Freelance writer

Anastasia Penchi is graduate of UW-La Crosse and a long-time Coulee Region writer who has written for area newspapers and magazines (