PEOPLE OF THE DRIFTLESS
The people of the Driftless Region are what makes the area tick. Folks here are hardworking, unassuming, salt-of-the-earth kinds of people.
A number of Driftless communities possess strong ethnic identities, with people of Scandinavian and German descent probably being most prominent: places like Westby, Wisconsin where the community sign reads “Velkommen til Westby” or spots like Decorah, Iowa where the McDonald’s Restaurant displays a Norwegian welcome on the entrance sign and “Mange Takk” for “many thanks” on the exit sign. And don’t forget to visit the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum there. Maybe you’ll even rub elbows with the King of Norway while you’re in town.
In La Crosse, Wisconsin, German heritage will be evident, especially with the world’s largest six-pack next to City Brewery. This is the former G. Heileman Brewing Company, which operated from 1858 to 1996. In this beautiful city tucked between the rugged bluffs and the Mississippi River, you’ll also find La Crosse Oktoberfest, an event celebrating 50+ years of the best family activities, including the Maple Leaf Parade, carnival rides, ethnic foods, authentic German entertainment, national entertainers, children’s acts, as well as local and regional country, pop, blues and rock groups. With events scheduled throughout this fall weekend, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
In addition to great ethnic traditions, you’ll find all sorts of creative types and entrepreneurs in the Driftless Region: filmmakers like Neil Rettig; business leaders like George Siemon (Organic Valley) and Don Weber (Logistics Health, Inc.); writers like David Rhodes; and artists like Elmer Petersen.
The Driftless also is the place where architect Frank Lloyd Wright, astronaut Mark Lee, and Admiral Jay Johnson grew up and where Aldo Leopold helped launch the nation’s first soil and water conservation program.
You don’t have to be famous to come to the Driftless. And folks here probably would treat you just the same as anyone else if you were: with kindness and hospitality.