Blue Stars of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, were formed in 1964 and first appeared on the competitive scene in 1965. The corps was initially sponsored by the local First Federal Savings and Loan, which issued stock in the corps as a fundraiser. The group was known as the First Federal Blue Stars then.
The corps' early years were unusually successful. They can claim appearances in the finals of every national contest they entered between 1966 and 1979. 1970, however, was the year the corps surprised everyone, as they defeated the Cavaliers and the Kilties, and finished in fifth place at VFW Nationals in Miami.
1972 was the corps' finest year as an open class corps. They traded wins with Santa Clara Vanguard all summer and were one of the favorites to win it all coming into the first DCI National Championships. The corps finally placed second, beaten by the surging Anaheim Kingsmen. Dr. David Kampschroer, one of the organizers of the Blue Stars, was also intrumental in the formation of DCI.
The corps remained consistent throughout the 1970s. They made DCI finals every year through 1979, and became the 1973 CYO National Champions and the 1977 VFW National Champions. The Blue Stars still hold the distinction of making the biggest drop in top-12 standings in one year, from third to 12th from 1973 to 1974; and the biggest gain in standings in the top 12, from 12th to fifth from 1974 to 1975.
Then came the 1980s, and Blue Star slipped out of contention. After taking a few years off, during which they kept their feeder corps going and participated in parades, Blue Stars retook the field in 1987 and for a time were called the Blue Star Cadets. The corps made the A-60 Finals that year and have never been out of finals in that division or division II since, making them the most consistent small corps in the activity today. They are one of two corps to have made Finals in all three divisions, Division I, II and III, at DCI. In 2001, the Blue Stars won the Division III championships; they finished second by 0.65 point in 2002 with their show 'Three Decades.' In 2003, the Blue Stars finished sixth in Division II/III competition. After the season, Greg Struve was named the new corps director.
A new capital fund drive, called "Return to Glory," had the aim of fielding a corps of more than 100 members, more than double the size of the 2003 corps, producing crowd-pleasing shows. The drive moved the corps into fifth place in DCI Division II/III Finals with an anime-flavored show called 'Reloaded.'
[www.dci.org; DCW, 11/88, p.8; DCW, 5/6/89, p.5; DCW, 6/16/89, p.1; Gary Cuzzocrea, RAMD, 3/9/99; DCW, 7/9/04, p.12, inter alia]