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Celebrating the life and legacy of John Latsch (06/02/2014)
John Latsch Week

July 21 to July 26!

Many have heard the name John Latsch before, but most probably only know it from the State Park. John Latsch was a wholesale grocer in early Winona and greatly enjoyed his time alone on the river with his canoe, newspa­per, jar of buttermilk, and canine friend. This man was very humble and did not like publicity, but as thanks for his success in Winona, Latsch left a lasting legacy. He purchased and donated over 18,000 acres of land for public use along the river creating, not only John A. Latsch State Park, but much of Whitewater State Park, Bluffside Park, Prairie Island, Winona Athletic Park, Gabrych Park, and Aghaming Park; and in Wisconsin, Perrot State Park and Merrick State Park.

But there is more to his humble generosity, and the Winona County Historical Society is planning a week to celebrate John Latsch and his philanthropy. July 21 through July 26 will be filled with educational programs, an exhibit, river tours, and even bow ties. Mark your calendars for July 21 through July 26 and come learn more about, and celebrate, John Latsch.

One of the very few images we have of John Latsch shows him in a bow tie. Bow ties with an information card and event schedule will be sold for $5 each as a fundraiser for the society. On July 26 at 1 p.m. the public is invited to participate in setting a Guinness World Record for the most people wearing a bow tie in one place. The record photo will be taken at the Winona Levee. Participants wearing a bow tie for the record will be given a ticket for a free chance to win a Wenonah Canoe!

John Latsch Week events

• Declaration of John Latsch Week by the mayor at the Winona City Council meeting, city hall, Monday, July 21, at 6:30 p.m.

• River tour on The Cal Fremling; Tuesday, July 22; boarding starts at 6:30 p.m., departing 7:00 p.m. at the Levee dock.

Join us on a guided tour of the Mississippi River from Latsch’s point of view aboard the new floating classroom operated by Winona State University. Refuge Ranger Edward Lagace will narrate our tour with a history of our stretch of the river and John Latsch’s relationship with it. Light refreshments are included. Tickets are $25 per person ($20 for WCHS members!) and can be purchased at the Winona County History Center. Space is limited!

• The Life and Legacy of John Latsch: a program and exhibit reception at the History Center; Thursday, July 24, 7 p.m.

Mike Kennedy will give a presentation about John Latsch’s life and the legacy he left behind for Winona and beyond. You are invited to explore an exhibit featuring artifacts from Latsch’s business and the statue of Latsch with his dog and canoe created by Lynette Power. Refreshments will be served and the winner of the Winona Post’s Latsch Essay contest will be presented.

• Latsch Day at the Farmers Market and Bow Tie Photo; Saturday, July 26, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Main Street by the Levee.

Latsch, a wholesale grocer, enjoyed a jar of buttermilk on his solitary canoe outings and came from a farming family. You are invited to browse the offerings of Winona’s local food growers and artisans.

Then, head down to the Levee wearing your bow tie for a large group photo at 1 p.m.! We hope to break the world record for the number of people in one place wearing a bow tie — tell your, family, friends, co-workers and bring your pet... we need over 825 people and are hoping for 1,000! Those who wear a bow tie to the Winona Levee Park for the photo will get a free chance to win a Wenonah canoe!

• Latsch Island Beach Party and Canoe Tour; Saturday, July 26, 2 p.m. (paddle tours leave at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.)

Come out to Latsch Island for an afternoon of picnicking, swimming, games, and paddling. Rangers and guides from the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge will lead a free canoe (and kayak) tour around Latsch Island. All ages and abilities are welcome! Experienced guides from WSU Outdoor Education and Recreation will be there to give you a paddling 101 lesson and safety instructions.

Bring your own canoe or kayak (no motorized craft please) or sign up for free use of a canoe by contacting Refuge Ranger Edward J. Lagace at 507-494-6236 or email ed_lagace@fws.gov.

Log onto www.winonahistory.org for more information and to plan your participation in the celebration. You can also call 507-454-2723 and also like us on Facebook. 


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