Anyone who knows local man Aaron Ellringer knows that he is serious about kubb. As a 2010 US National Kubb Tournament Champion, he has won multiple trophies in the sport and has even designed his own brand of kubb sets. This summer, Aaron, along with some other locals, will be attending the World Kubb Championship in Gotland, Sweden, where the game originated. This ragtag group of Midwesterners will be competing as the only American team in the tournament.
In an effort to truly exercise his kubb-durance, Ellringer came up with a brilliant, if quirky idea: "an ongoing public kubb game that allows people to come and go, learn and play, for days on end!" On March 25, Ellringer elaborated on the idea in a blog post. This post was "a declaration of a two day kubb project and a new challenge for the world's longest consecutive kubb friendly."
Ellringer has already begun preparing for this record-setting event. "My wife sacrificed some work time to make sure she could be with the kids," he said. "I'll make sure I have plenty of coffee and schedule some folks in to give me a break."
But this kubb fanatic didn't just set the marathon up for the purpose of personal preparation. As an Eau Claire native, Ellringer feels very strongly about the confluence and its future. Through 36 hours of straight up kubbin', he hopes to raise awareness of not just the sport, but of the election on April 1, the Confluence Project and the confluence itself.
"I'm guessing I'll see more than a hundred people pass through," said Ellringer. "But folks are already hearing about it around the world."
The Kubbathon will take place near the Haymarket at the confluence between the morning of Monday, March 31 to the night of Tuesday, April 1. Follow the progress on Twitter: #kubbathon.
Coincidentally, the V1 Gallery will be hosting the world premiere of Game of Throws: Two Teams Aim for the U.S. National Kubb Championship, a new kubb-umentary, for free this Saturday, March 29, at 3pm: the perfect opportunity to amp yourself up for the Kubbathon.
"No fooling, I'm going to play a lot of kubb," said Ellringer.
Votes in next Tuesday’s referendums alone won’t build the Confluence Project: The proposed development needs dollars, too. And on Thursday, Community for the Confluence announced a slew of donations for the project just in time to secure a $250,000 matching grant from Charter Bank.
Back in February, Charter promised to match up to $250,000 in new pledges of $25,000 or more made by March 31. The newly announced pledges, which will leverage the quarter-million from Charter, include $100,000 from Northwestern Bank; $100,000 from Bon Iver/Justin Vernon; and a total of $225,000 from a number of anonymous donors. Combined with the matching money from Charter, that’s a total of $675,000 toward the performing arts center portion of the Confluence Project.
“We’re very pleased to see such positive and generous response to Charter Bank’s matching gift challenge of $250,000,” Paul Kohler, president of Charter Bank, said in a press release. “The commitments from businesses and individuals demonstrate the broad base of support for the Confluence community arts center and hopefully add important momentum to the philanthropy expectation for the center. When all areas of our community work together on a common goal, we can accomplish tremendous things.”
Jerry Jacobson, president of Northwestern Bank, added that his bank’s board unanimously supported the pledge. “We believe this project is great for all of the Chippewa Valley, not just Eau Claire and the university," Jacobson said in a press release. “Everyone in the region will benefit and for many, many years. This is an investment in the future, and that’s what we here at Northwestern Bank are all about. It’s a pleasure to be a part of something so transformational.”
The roughly $50 million downtown performing arts center would be shared by community arts groups and UW-Eau Claire, and the community is responsible for half of its cost. About $15 million of the community’s $25 million share is expected to be raised from donors. With the new pledges of $675,000, total philanthropy has exceeded the $5 million mark, said Community for the Confluence, a group comprised of the project’s backers.
The Confluence Project also will include a $26 million building that will include commercial and retail space as well as student housing. This mixed-use building will be privately financed.
The donations could become a moot point, however, depending on the outcome of a pair of referendums on Tuesday. Eau Claire County voters will choose whether to pledge $3.5 million in taxpayer funds toward the performing arts center. The referendum for city of Eau Claire voters is more complex: If approved, it would require a separate, second referendum anytime the city seeks to spend $1 million or more on a performing arts facility. This would jeopardize the $5 million already pledged by the City Council last fall, which is why Confluence supporters are campaigning for a “no” vote on the city referendum.
I was ready to call double shenanigans on Travel Wisconsin for their woefully inaccurate list of Wisconsin's "7 Natural Wonders" until I noticed the world "natural" in the title. The "7 Wonders" I had expected to see included the Forevertron, that huge fish in Hayward, and a giant six-pack of La Crosse Lager. Maybe the World’s Largest Soup Kettle in Laona or the World’s Largest Letter “M” in Plateville or my uncle Merl's near-supernatural ability to eat an entire bucket of lefse. Simply scanning TW's list reveals lake shores, waterfalls, caves, state parks, and … a marsh. I was very disappointed.
Upon rereading the title I realized this was a list of natural beauty and uniqueness. Fair enough. I guess I just tend towards the unnatural. The list includes …
1. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Calling to the explorer in all of us, this national park is a grouping or “archipelago” of 21 wilderness islands dotting the cold waters of Lake Superior and more than a dozen miles of shoreline with some of the most pristine remaining sandscapes in the Great Lakes region. National Geographic Explorer magazine named it a top place to visit. There are old-growth forests, windswept beaches and cliffs …
2. Big Manitou Falls
Often the backdrop for wedding couples to figuratively take the plunge, the 165-foot tall Big Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park near Superior is the fourth tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains …
3. Cave of the Mounds
Let’s start with credentials. Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds is designated a “National Natural Landmark,” yet it may be easier to remember it as the “jewel box” of America’s major caves, named as such for the delicacy of its formations. The main cave began forming more than a million years ago as acidic water dissolved the limestone bedrock …
Keep reading for more natural Sconnie wonderment.
So there you go. Wonderful stuff.