At the end of August in 2018, this area in western Wisconsin was devastated by flood waters. Homes and businesses were damaged and destroyed. The Coon Valley Veterans Memorial Park, home to festivals, family activities, local baseball teams and tournaments including the American Legion State Baseball Tournament, was in ruins. Some businesses were forced to permanently close their doors while others were compelled to close for several weeks.
The 2018 flood featured prominently in state news. Pictures and video depicting the destruction aired throughout the state and nation. The iconic footage of a bull, standing in the rushing waters of Coon Creek flowing over Highway 14, powerfully captures loss and devastation but also strength and resilience.
King, the bull, survived and was reunited with his owners, a local farm family. He is the inspiration for the Coon Creek Canoe Race. This is a compelling story of the strength and resilience of families, neighbors and organizations connecting to rebuild and improve the community. Several local organizations from two communities collaborated to produce the Coon Creek Canoe Race and Festival.
The Coon Creek Canoe Race is a two-pronged event: canoe race and a festival. The canoe race begins at the home of the bull, the Gilbeck Farm, in beautiful Timber Coulee, about five miles from Coon Valley. Buses and trailers will shuttle canoeists and canoes to the launch site. There are three race categories and a team of volunteers will launch canoes every two minutes. The route, a 3.8-mile course on scenic Coon Creek, follows the ride of the bull when swept away by the flooding creek. The race ends in the Coon Valley Veterans Memorial Park where the bull was found standing firm in the rushing waters. The race is fun for the whole family.
The Veterans Memorial Park is home to the festival. This family and adult festival will provide fun and educational activities for all ages including yard games and a bounce house for children. The festival features local products including coffee, soda, beer, wine and cheese. Local organizations offer a variety of food choices. Two area bands and one Chicago-based band will create a fun and festive atmosphere providing music throughout the day and into the evening.