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Aquinas sophomore Sara Gyllander tries to catch a Royall runner during the 800-meter relay at Monday's WIAA Division 3 Onalaska Luther Regional.

A staple to many county fairs, the Sizzler was one of the first rides laid down Tuesday during the Steamboat Days set-up. Winona's annual festival begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday. For more information, go to

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Weber Group footing bill for military tickets to Country Boom
Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Riley Green, seen projected on a jumbo screen, performs a Friday set at the 2018 Country Boom music festival at Maple Grove Venues in West Salem.

Members of the armed forces will be able to attend Country Boom music festival next month for free thanks to a local donation.

The Weber Group, a family-run local hospitality, health care and development group, will foot the bill for all active military members, veterans and their immediate family members for the West Salem country music event, the groups announced Wednesday.

“Our U.S. Armed Forces ensure the safety and wellbeing of our country. Honoring our heroes for their commitment and service is part of our everyday mission,” said CEO Libby Weber in a statement.

“Our contribution towards veterans’ admission is a meager token of our appreciation and gratitude for their noble service,” Weber said. “We hope they can celebrate and enjoy their family and friends at Country Boom.”

All members of the U.S. military, active or former, and immediate family members will be able to receive free general admission tickets.

Three-day passes for the festival currently start at $85, with day passes ranging from $25-$50.

“It’s really overwhelming in a number of ways to partner with the Weber Group on this,” said Jon Holthaus with Country Boom. “For them to believe in us that we will deliver a high level event to our armed forces is extremely humbling and an honor to say the least.”

Country Boom music festival will take place July 8-10 at Maple Grove Venues in West Salem. It was first founded in 2018, and historically has brought in around 20,000 fans.

Randy Erickson photo 

Phil Vassar's Saturday night set at Country Boom featured a lot of crowd interaction and his music worked in a lot of pop and rock as well as country, including covers of songs by The Proclaimers and Billy Joel. See more images from Saturday night in the online photo gallery with this week's column.

This year the music event is bringing in headliners Jake Owen, Chris Lane, Diamond Rio and more for its first year back after the pandemic. More musical acts are to be announced leading up to the event.

Military tickets can be secured at, where members will need to verify their military history, or picked up at Fort McCoy, the Target Bluff German Haus at Camp Douglas, or at Morries/Brenengen Auto at the West Salem, Onalaska, La Crosse, Sparta or Tomah locations.

Other tickets as well as parking passes, camping and shuttle services and more can be found at

Big & Rich, Justin Moore headline 2020 Country Boom in West Salem

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With increasing shortages, blood donors needed more than ever

Blood centers have been experiencing donation shortages for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, and an increase in trauma cases has only heightened the need for donor blood.

The American Red Cross has reported a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma, transplant or surgical patients increase, with 2021 seeing a spike in overdoses, trauma cases and emergency room visits.

In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross on a national level has seen a 10% increase in demand from trauma centers, with their growth in need over five times higher than that of other facilities which supply blood transfusions.

Regionally, an alarming number of motorcycle and vehicle accidents have occurred this spring, with a number of victims requiring critical care. Last year in Wisconsin, there were approximately 2,095 motorcycle crashes, with 1,788 injured and 112 killed.

In 2020, La Crosse County confirmed 40 overdose deaths and another 13 have been recorded so far this year. Many more individuals have needed hospital attention to survive an overdose — per the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 29 opioid overdose ambulance runs occurred in La Crosse County in April 2021, with 90 total from January through April.

“When seconds count in emergency trauma situations, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can make the difference in lifesaving care,” said Greg Novinska, regional donor services executive, Red Cross Wisconsin Region.

Additional blood need comes from those who deferred care and operations during the pandemic’s peak. For some, the delay caused their health to further deteriorate and thus require more extensive treatment and additional transfusions. Over the past 90 days, the Red Cross has distributed 75,000 more blood products than anticipated.

The Red Cross is in need of all blood types, especially type O, and platelets. Through June 25, donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, the results of which will be accessible to the donor within one to two weeks of donation.

In recognition of World Sickle Cell Day June 19, all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors will be screened for the sickle cell trait. The disease primarily affects individuals of African descent, and patients may require up to 100 units of blood per year to manage the condition.

“Since the best blood match for a patient receiving ongoing transfusions comes from donors of the same genetic background, the Red Cross encourages people of all ethnicities to give blood and help increase the number of diverse donors so we can find the best match for all patients,” the organization says.

To schedule an appointment to donate blood, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, call 1-800-733-2767 or visit Donors must be 17 or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and provide a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification at check-in.

“As many people begin to enjoy travel and time with loved ones again this summer, patients are relying on the generosity of donors to help ensure they have access to the treatment they need,” says Novinska. “Please consider blood donation as a summer activity that can help save lives.”

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in La Crosse:

La Crosse

  • 11:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. June 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, July 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, La Crosse Blood Donation Center, 1427 Hwy. 16.
  • 7:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 18, 19, 25, 26, July 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, La Crosse Blood Donation Center
  • Noon to 5 p.m. June 18, Valley View Mall, 3800 Hwy. 16
  • 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. June 18, Moose Lodge, 1932 Ward Ave.
  • Noon to 5 p.m. July 2, Roncalli Newman Center Parish, 1732 State St.
  • 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. July 2, Immanuel Lutheran School, 803 St. Paul St.
  • Noon to 5 p.m. July 7, Moose Lodge
  • 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 12, Radisson Center, 300 Front St.

COLLECTION: In photos around the region