Tuesday, Aug. 15th, 2017

Thrillist Calls Eau Claire One Of "America's Best Small Cities to Move to Before They Get Too Popular"

Here we go again! Online publication Thrillist – which has written positively about Eau Claire in at least two other articles – has included Eau Claire on a list of "America's Best Small Cities to Move to Before They Get Too Popular." I guess this is the natural evolution of this kind of coverage.

It's not a huge write up, and it's a pretty superficial look at the city, but it's the latest in a long list of national and state publications turning a spotlight on Eau Claire for a number of reasons – as both a travel destination and a place to live. Some stories are more in-depth than others (and some are downright clickbaity) but you can't deny that we've been getting a lot of attention lately.

If you're wondering exactly what the means to us as locals – and if you should care – check out an editorial written by Volume One Editor/Publisher Nick Meyer: Eau Claire Is Making National Headlines. Here's What That Means and Why You Should Care.

In the meantime, here's what Thrillist has to say …

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Beer, trails, and a world-class music festival at your doorstep
Population: 68,300

If you want to make friends in this life -- real friends, the sort you’ll hang with for the rest of your days -- then spend a few winters two hours from Minneapolis. The upper Midwestern folks here have a knack for making the most of that dreary, dark season. You’ll still see bikes (with snow tires) commuting in negative temperatures, which at first may seem insane but eventually... you kind of get it. Duck out of the snow and into a warm, toasty bar -- Water Street is saturated with them -- for a pint of Lazy Monk IPA or New Glarus Spotted Cow. Eat some cheese curds, play a board game or 200, and let the winter roll on by, as it always manages to do.

Once spring rolls around, everyone starts peeling the sleeves off their pale-ass torsos and preparing to smash their way into a temperate, gorgeous summer together. The Chippewa River runs through this city, with loads of trails, parks, even beaches, and a shiny waterfront downtown is rolling in locally owned shops and locally sourced eats. June brings about the Eaux Claires music festival, started in 2015 by Wisconsin’s own Justin Vernon, where local artists share a bill with such little-known acts as Vernon's Bon Iver, Wilco, and Paul Simon. -- Kylie Maxcy

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Wednesday, Aug. 9th, 2017

The Oxbow Hotel's New Video Is a Love Letter to Eau Claire

Just yesterday The Oxbow Hotel – the new downtown boutique hotel that completely transformed the block where the troubled Green Tree Inn was just a few years ago – posted a new video showing a couple enjoying what downtown Eau Claire has to offer. But the film looks like more than just a commercial for the hotel – it's a love letter to Eau Claire and where it’s heading right now.

The hotel writes: "Downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin is changing. Music, art, food, drinks, trails, rivers, and events are shifting the culture. As a newly relaunched boutique property, The Oxbow Hotel sits at the intersection of our community's past, present, and future. Join us, either overnight or at The Lakely, and experience the new direction."

Sure, the video is meant to entice people into visiting the hotel or their farm-to-table restaurant, The Lakely – but when it makes the town look this good, we all win. It shows the couple exploring town on bikes and kayaks, eating and drinking with friends, listening to records, and taking in that big Shouting Matches concert right on the street before this summer's Eaux Claires fest.

And the localness doesn't stop there. The narration for the video is an excerpt from the Chippewa Valley-based author Nickolas Butler's New York Times best-selling novel "Shotgun Lovesongs." It's read by James Diers, the lead musician behind Halloween Alaska and Love-cars, two Minneapolis-based bands that have strong ties to the Eau Claire scene. And of course the music is by Eau Claire band The Shouting Matches, whose members appear in the video as well.

Along with the Oxbow ownership team, the video was created in large part by Anthony Casonova, a former local who grew up in Eau Claire but is now based in Chicago. Casonova and two friends came up for a couple weekends to shoot the video thanks to support from their employer, Guy Bauer Productions. 

This post was produced through a partnership with The Oxbow Hotel in downtown Eau Claire. Learn more!

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Tuesday, Aug. 8th, 2017

6 Wisconsin Roadside Attractions Not Too Far From Here

Sup, Chatty.
Sup, Chatty.

It’s summer and the great state of Wisconsin boasts a plethora of roadside attractions, which means it’s time to explore. Here’s a list of the six quirky attractions within a 100-mile radius of Eau Claire. Feel free to suggest more in the comments!

1. World’s Largest Talking Cow, Neillsville

Only in the Dairy State would you find the World’s Largest Talking Cow. Seven times larger than an average cow, Chatty Belle has something more valuable than size: her voice. Although it’s been reported that she’s lost her voice, Chatty Belle is still a Holstein to see. Find Chatty on Facebook.

2. Rock in the House, Fountain City

The 55-ton boulder that plowed its way through a house may have chased a married couple out of their home, but it has its perks. The Rock in the House has been granted a historical preservation permit, allowing visitors to walk through the house, exploring and reading about other local disasters. Who knew a 55-ton boulder could be such an object of special character. Learn more.

3. F.A.S.T. Fiberglass Mold Graveyard, Sparta

Nothing’s stranger than a bunch of giant, abandoned fiberglass objects ... unless you make an attraction out of it. FAST Corporation has kept molds from almost every job they’ve ever done, leaving them littered in a field behind the workshop. Visit and stroll among the eerie collection of weathered fiberglass objets, animals, and ... other things. Learn more.

4. Forest of Chainsaw Totem Poles, Medford

With over 400 chainsaws lodged in more than 20 telephone poles, you might think Leatherface is nearby. Instead, a roadside firewood business sits, welcoming visitors to view their lumberjack art – now all you need is a beard and a flannel and you’ll feel right at home at the Forest of Chainsaw Totem Poles. Learn more.

5. Jurustic Park, Marshfield

Home to several extinct, iron-made creatures that inhabited McMillan Marsh, Jurustic Park is a beastie filled sculpture garden. Explore the park and view the sculptures all made from found antique objects. Unlike Jurassic Park, these creatures aren’t harmful. They also have a Hobbit House. Learn more.

6. World’s Largest Six-Pack, La Crosse

You might call the big six-pack in La Crosse one of the granddaddies of Wiscosnin roadside attractions. There’s a sign in front stating the World’s Largest Six-Pack would fill 7 million twelve-ounce cans, which would provide one person a six-pack a day for approximately 3,351 years. That seems like a lot ... even for a Wisconsinite. Learn more.

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Monday, Aug. 7th, 2017

We're Moving the Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll!

For the last decade, right about this time of the year we’d tell you voting was now open for our big, huge Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll. Well, for the many, many thousands of you who vote every year – things are changing.

We’re moving our annual Best Of poll – and the massive issue that goes with it – to better reflect the calendar year. Our new tradition will be this: Voting starts in December, and the results issue comes out the first week of February. It's perfect timing to explore what was really good throughout the whole previous year, and to preview the year ahead. But what’s more, we’re also amping up the Best Of results issue to a whole new level and throwing a big ol’ party at The Lismore to go with it. We think you’re going to love the change (and the killer party), so sit tight and get your clicker finger ready to vote in December as the year wraps up.

In the meantime, whether you’re a voter or up for an award, beware of any Chippewa Valley “Best Of” imposters with a similar-sounding poll. Unfortunately a knock-off is out there, but it’s not the real deal. Only the Volume One Reader Poll has seen nearly one million individual votes from the community over the last ten years. It’s the poll you know and the poll you trust, from the Chippewa Valley’s largest independently-owned and operated media group: Volume One.

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Wednesday, Aug. 2nd, 2017

Viva Bon Mexico

Hmm. Today, Bon Iver released detailed plans for "Days Have No Numbers" –  a four-day "concert vacation” at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riveria Maya, Mexico on January 21-25, 2018. Limited to just 2,500 attendees, the event will be sort of like a mini-Eaux Claires at a tropical resort on the dreamy shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Pretty much the whole musical lineup is Eaux alumni with acts like Sylvan Esso, POLIÇA, Francis and the Lights, Hiss Golden Messenger, Melt-Banana, Spank Rock, Aero Flynn, Phil Cook, Dizzy Fae, Velvet Negroni, Amy Warehouse, Hrrrbek and more special guests coming along for the trip. Bon Iver itself will play three separate shows, and there will be three stages in different spaces of the resort.

So the idea is you stay at the resort, explore the Mayan Riviera, maybe go snorkeling or zip-lining during the day, followed by daily yoga sessions, workshops, interactive games, maybe you'd hit the spa or spend time by the beach. Then on top of all that, you get to be dazzled by a super eclectic slate of artists, music festival style. Tickets – which run $1,500 to $3,500ish – go on sale on August 10. So, there are a few numbers associated with these particular days.

To learn more and buy tickets, head to dayshavenonumbers.com.

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Thursday, Jul. 27th, 2017

5 Little Known Eau Claire Ordinances ... from the Late 1800s

Perhaps some of these entries from an old booklet of Eau Claire city ordinances at the Chippewa Valley Museum should still be enforced. 


No one likes a dirty mouth, but back in 1874 the City of Eau Claire had some pretty strict rules against foul language. According to a booklet of ordinances published that year, you could be fined up to $50 for speaking “any bawdy, lewd, or filthy words.” Furthermore, your neighbors could perform a citizen’s arrest if you cursed: According to the ordinance, “any householder in Eau Claire can apprehend lawfully somebody who violates” that rule.

2. SLOW DOWN (1874)

Back in the 19th century, the pace of life was slower – literally. Under the 1874 ordinances, it was “unlawful to ride or drive a horse or a team faster than a walk on a bridge longer than 20 feet.” In addition, the speed limit for horses on “streets, alleys, lanes, and highways” was a comparatively swift 7 mph.


In recent years, the Eau Claire City Council has debated whether to allow residents to raise chickens. When Eau Claire was incorporated, rules about animals were more relaxed, but they still did exist. “Horses, mules, cattle, goats, or swine” weren’t allowed to run at large; if found, they could be impounded. (Imagine that impound lot!) Interestingly, this rule didn’t apply to cattle owners as long as Bessie was tied up after 10pm.


In the interests of promoting public health, it was unlawful to “kill or slaughter any beeves, sheep, hogs, or other animals within the limits of the city.” Yes, you read that right: The slaughtering of “beeves” was banned. And no, “beeves” doesn’t refer to Wally Cleaver’s little brother or Butt-Head’s buddy: it’s just an archaic plural of the word “beef” – in other words, cattle.


And while we’re on the subject of slaughtering livestock, an edition of the city ordinances published in 1882 prohibited “putrid carcasses or other unwholesome or nauseous substances” from being deposited within the city or its waters. If enforced, this ordinance would have prevented those “charming” tales from Eau Claire old-timers about kids playing in the river with inflated pig bladders!

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Friday, Jul. 14th, 2017

URGENT: The City of Altoona Wants Your Art

Pedestals in Altoona's River Prairie Park, soon to hold local art.
Pedestals in Altoona's River Prairie Park, soon to hold local art.

Altoona’s River Prairie Development has been progressing for several years, soon to make its debut this fall. Located along the banks of the Eau Claire River, the park area of the development  uses the site’s natural beauty as a primary draw for visitors and residents, offering something for everyone – including original works of art.

The City of Altoona is currently accepting proposals from qualified artists interested in creating or providing sculptures to bring character to River Prairie Park. The sculptures will be mounted upon existing pedestals and will be highly visible within the park space to both pedestrian and automobile traffic. These proposed sculptures will be a primary focal point within the park.

The City hopes to install four sculptures that reflect the values upon which the park was envisioned and constructed. Those values include:

• Promoting environmental quality and highlighting the sites natural attributes
• Creating a space that is welcoming to all individuals and that promotes diversity, inclusion and engagement
• Promoting activities that reflect the concepts of Hygge (Danish) and Koselig (Norwegian)
• Creating a unique identity for River Prairie and the City of Altoona
• Providing a space of fun and wonderment for children and adults alike
• Creating a convivial atmosphere through programming diverse events
• Delivering a space that promotes healthy activities and choices

To be eligible for this opportunity, professional artists must reside in either Wisconsin or Minnesota, or with a direct tie to the Chippewa Valley in some other manner. Applicants must design an interactive, dynamic/kinetic, engaging, and adjustable piece of art, providing one or all four sculptures.

Lots more info ...

Deadline: Friday, July 28, 2pm

Proposals must be received by Friday, July 28 at 2pm. Artists can mail or drop off six hard copies at 1303 Lynn Avenue (Altoona)  or email a PDF file of their proposal to michaelg@ci.altoona.wi.us. In addition, they submit the following information:

1. Current resume(s) of artist(s) working on project with contact information (limit one page per artist).

2. Letter of Interest addressing how artist would approach the project (limit two pages).

3. List of a minimum of three (3) professional references per artist including name, address, phone number, and email address of each reference. Please include any references you may have related to work completed on any government of municipal art project. (limit one page per artist).

4. Ten (10) JPG images of previous works that most closely reflect the pieces being proposed. Images should be numbered and titled with the artist’s last name (i.e.01-Jones) and also include a brief description of each work, title of artwork, location, medium, size, and, if a commissioned project, the budget. If the piece was purchased outright, rather than commissioned, please include the sales price. (limit 10 pages)

5. A narrative and drawing illustrating the proposed sculpture(s) concept and identifying medium, dimensions, colors, style of work, method of installation, and artistic intent. (limit two pages per proposed sculpture).

6. Itemized budget including all costs such as artist’s fee, design, fabrication, and installation costs to include transportation and insurance during installation. Artist will be paid a lump sum for proposed work. (limit two pages)

7. The awarded artist budget will be all inclusive of the project costs, including artist’s fees and expenses, taxes, materials, fabrication and installation. The City will provide for site preparation and the physical ground foundation (concrete slab) for the art piece. Transportation, travel, liability insurance and installation are the responsibility of the artist.

8. Detailed installation plan. (limit one page)

All questions or requests should be directed to Mike Golat, City Administrator, at (715) 839-6092. Address and email information is listed below:

City of Altoona
Mike Golat
1303 Lynn Avenue
Altoona, WI 54720

River Prairie Park - Art Project Timeline

Call for Artist/RFP Release (7/12/17)
Site walk-through (7/20/17 – 2pm – River Prairie Center)
Deadline for Proposals (7/28/17 – 2pm)
Proposal Review & Consideration (7/31/17 – 8/4/17)
Select & Contract Artist (week of 8/7/17—council action on 8/7)
Fabrication of Art Pieces (8/8/17 – 9/22/17)
Artist Progress Report (9/14/17)
Art Piece(s) Completed & Installed (9/23/17)
Unveiling of Art Piece(s)/Press Event (9/30/17)


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Wednesday, Jul. 12th, 2017

1909: The Year the Hippodrome Came to Eau Claire

From the Eau Claire Leader on July 18, 1909 ...

Eau Claire, Friday, July 23

Gollmar Bros.
Greatest of American Shows

New and superb, brimful and overflowing with the most sensational, ingenious and high class arenic and hippodrome features acts ever exhibited.

A colossal combination of circus, museum, hippodrome and $1,000,000 menagerie.

200 artists, 200 blooded horses, 30 clowns, 100 feature acts, $20,000 blood sweating behemoth, monster herd of performing elephants. Scores of surprising sights and scenes in salutation. Grand gold glittering and glorious free street parade 10am. 2 performances daily, 1 and 7pm.

With the recent demise of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, (after 147 years) I thought it would be fun to travel back the grand heyday of American circuses. This advertised circus followed the time-tested marketing plan of parading the entire cast of circus performers, animals, and elaborately decorated circus cars down the main street in order to give prospective patrons a taste of the weirdness to be enjoyed at the actual circus.

During this time period, a circus visiting town was wildly popular, thousands of people from all the surrounding small towns would flock to Eau Claire to catch a glimpse of sensational spectacle. For many, the circus would be the only chance they would ever have to see exotic animals in the flesh.  

Often times an advance team would visit the area a couple weeks before the circus and plaster these amazing flyers all over town---ensuring that by the time the actual circus arrived, children and their families were falling over each over to spend their hard-earned money at the circus.

I am saddened that the days of seeing a circus car overflowing with a gigantic hippopotamus splashing about along main street are long gone – luckily, we still have the treasure of Circus World in Baraboo, and no matter where you come out on the whole circus debate, I think we can all agree that seeing 30 over-friendly clowns parading around Eau Claire would be … something.

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Monday, Jul. 10th, 2017

LISTEN: Wisconsin Public Radio on "Eau Claire’s Cultural Renaissance"

A lot has been written throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the nation in recent weeks about the new rise of Eau Claire in the cultural landscape of the Midwest. Playing a role in this is music, entrepreneurship, arts, development, millennials, and more. Last week Wisconsin Public Radio took an hour to explore what's happening, inviting Volume One publisher Nick Meyer to discuss and take calls from around the state. Nick again mentions his "Feedback Loop" theory and dives into what it all means for Eau Claire and what it can mean for other communities as well.

Take some time and listen in: wpr.org/listen/1128631

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