Established in 2005, the La Crosse-Bantry Friendship Association is La Crosse's link to Ireland.
The mission of the La Crosse Bantry Friendship Association, Inc. is to promote people-to-people diplomacy between Bantry, Ireland and La Crosse, Wisconsin, and to educate by facilitating exchanges and projects so that people may develop a better understanding of each others' culture, city and country.
Our relationship with Bantry, Ireland, is unique and features cooperative efforts in such diverse activities as education, sports, the arts, government agencies and public policy, business, and many others.
La Crosse's varied cultural backgrounds of its citizens has resulted in an environment that ensures foreign visitors are welcome. We support a variety of local cultural education programs, activities and events. Many of these events are supported and coordinated by the City’s International Committee.
In addition, the City of La Crosse has an active International Committee, which ensures representation from each of our seven Sister Cities. This committee brings together citizens interested in promoting international awareness and citizen diplomacy.
History: How did Bantry become a Sister City with La Crosse?
After several attempts to locate a city/town ready to twin with La Crosse, in 2004 Linda Pfaff traveled to Bantry and met with then Mayor Patrick Kelly and Deputy Mayor Mary Hegarty to discuss the possibility of a twinning relationship. Both felt it was a worthy endeavor and the relationship was initiated with a hand shake. This article from the La Crosse Tribune, published February 2005, explains: La Crosse Looks for Sister City in Bantry, Ireland. The following year in April, Mayor of Bantry Patrick Kelly, came to La Crosse to sign the proclamation which made the twinning official. Another article from April 2005: Mayors Finalize Sister City Pact.
During the first official year as an organization, Chuck Hanson acted as President Pro-tem to help guide the group through the writing of the initial by-laws and setting up the group, known as La Crosse Bantry Friendship Association, to become entwined with the city of La Crosse allowing it to have its 501c3 status.
LEFT: LBFA Delegation to Bantry, front row, L to R:
Kathy Spelker, Linda Pfaff, and Lynn West, in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland.
RIGHT: Members at the dedication of the Irish
L to R: John Boyle,
Linda Pfaff, Kriss Kuhn
Mary Hegarty, Deputy Mayor of Bantry; Linda Pfaff, first elected president of LBFA; Patrick Bona Kelly, Mayor of Bantry, November 2004.
Kriss Kuhn, then President, cuts a rug with caller Tim Jenkins at the Coulee Hoolie Ceili, 2016