Monday, Mar. 27th, 2017

Action City Set to Add Motorized Zip-line and New Outdoor Road Course

Motorized zip-line installation at Action City, Eau Claire.
Motorized zip-line installation at Action City, Eau Claire. Image: Action City

Hot on the heels of its newly opened trampoline park, Eau Claire's Action City will also be adding a 700 foot long motorized zip-line – which can send 2 people flying through the air at 35 miles per hour from a height of 130 feet – and a large outdoor road course with new go-karts. We announced the new attractions back in May 2016, and now Action City has started construction,with the hopes of opening in just a few months, in May 2017.

Check out Action City's press release ...

NEW Outdoor Attractions coming to Action City at Metropolis Resort Includes Motorized Zip-line & Outdoor Road Course with New Go-Karts

Eau Claire, WI (March 27th, 2017) – Shirley and Tom Hahn, the owners of Action City, a 90,000 square foot family fun center & trampoline park located at Metropolis Resort, announced that they have begun construction on two new outdoor attractions.

The outdoor expansion will include a much larger go-kart track. This road course will replace the current bandit cart oval track and will feature brand new go-karts from JJ Amusements. High above the new track and the mini golf course will be a 700 foot long motorized zip-line created by Soaring Eagle. This new ride will seat 2 people and will take them up to a height of 130 feet and speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Action City’s new outdoor expansion will open in early May of 2017 with an exact open date to be announced soon.

Action City’s outdoor mini golf course and pavilion will remain open for most of the installation process for the new outdoor attractions.

Follow Action City on Facebook and Instagram to see more behind the scenes sneak peeks of their new attractions coming in May 2017. Thank you for your continued support of Action City and Metropolis Resort. Your patronage helps us continue to truly be the place,”Where the Fun Never Stops”.

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Friday, Mar. 24th, 2017

Minnesotans Are Loving Eau Claire for Weekend Getaways

More and more, Eau Claire is listed and profiled by publications in Minnesota as a great place for a weekend getaway or a day trip. Just last month, Minnesota Public Radio featured a number of local eateries and bars in a segment on destination dining. And now Eau Claire has a two-page spread in the April issue of Minnesota Monthly, which covers arts, food, style, living, and travel in and around our neighboring state. The whole issue is devoted to weekend vacations.

The spread is part of a feature story on three small cities that are high on stuff to do and see, yet low on travel time. It’s co-written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Rachel Hutton, and also features Minnesota burgs Northfield and Mankato. They say these places “offer scenic beauty, vibrant culture, and some surprising new spots to shop, eat, drink, and spend the night.”

They, of course, talk about places like The Joynt and people like Justin Vernon and things like the Eaux Claires festival and UW-Eau Claire’s jazz program. But they also dig deeper into the downtown area, highlighting some great spots for interested travelers. Some takeaways ...

On The Lismore ... “The building, now clad in anodized metal and glass, includes an artisanal coffee shop, a farm-to-table restaurant serving bone marrow and bison, and the city’s only rooftop bar. (It’s called Dive because it replaced the former hotel’s swimming pool—an actual dive bar would never flame its Old Fashioneds’ orange peels.)”

On Red’s ... “The most contemporary shop in town is the spare, boho Red’s Mercantile, which sells chic removable wallpaper, Faribault blankets, sage bundles for smudging, beeswax candles, minimalist jewelry, and more.”

On Good & Sturdy ... “For vintage-lovers, Good & Sturdy offers a nicely curated collection of well-preserved jeans, leather jackets, t-shirts, and other clothing."

On The Lakely & The Oxbow Hotel ... “serves gourmet dishes rooted in the Midwest, including a fantastic “hot dish” of braised duck and native-harvested wild rice. The craft cocktails are also first-rate—I loved the Sugarbush Sour with bourbon, lemon, and maple syrup—spendier than the Joynt, but a steal compared to their Twin Cities equivalent. The overall atmosphere is classy yet relaxed, and the dress code ranges from sequins to UW-Badger fleece.” 

On the Antique Emporium ... “The largest retailer is the decades-old, three-level Antique Emporium, stuffed with furniture, dishes, books, lithographs, frames, and the most impressive taxidermy collection I’ve ever seen (don’t leave until you’ve spotted the two-headed calf).”

They also spend some words on the future of downtown, mentioning the forthcoming Confluence Project and Haymarket Plaza. Summing up the profile, they add this:

“In many small cities, economic growth tends to mean generic chain stores and a bland aesthetic. But, here, there’s local music playing on the outdoor sound system, local art at the galleries, such as the lovely new 200 Main ... The city is on its way to proving that it can both evolve and preserve its uniqueness.” Minnesota Monthly

On top of all that, the issue’s Editor’s Note from Hutton is all about what she calls “quickcations,” or short trips to towns you don’t normally consider as destination spots – complete with a photo of a bedroom at The Oxbow Hotel. 

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Monday, Mar. 20th, 2017

Wisco Domination at U.S. Cheese Contest

Marieke Penterman, left, shows off her award-winning cheese at the U.S. Champion Cheese Contest. Image: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Marieke Penterman, left, shows off her award-winning cheese at the U.S. Champion Cheese Contest. Image: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Wisconsin cheese stood alone in the winners’ circle at the recently completed 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay. West-central Wisconsin’s own Marieke Gouda of Thorp took third place overall for its Marieke Gouda Belegen. The Grand Champion Cheese title went to the Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano from Sartori in Antigo, while first runner up was the Aged Cheddar from Agropur in Weyauwega. The competition drew more than 2,300 cheeses, butters, and yogurts from 33 states. According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, “Wisconsin captured 60 percent of all awards, winning 184 awards total, including the top three titles, 62 Best of Class awards, 63 second place, and 56 third place awards.” Among the winners in their classes were the Marieke Gouda Belegen, which won Best of Class honors in the Edam and Gouda category, and Marieke Gouda Aged, which won Best of Class in the Aged Gouda category. Overall, Marieke Gouda won 11 medals. Other cheesemakers from the region honored at the championship included AMPI of Jim Falls, which won Best of Class in the Mild Cheddar category, and LaGrander’s Hillside Dairy of Stanley, which took Best of Class for Colby.

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Thursday, Mar. 9th, 2017

Eaux Claires Announces 2017 Day-to-Day Lineup

Just over three months away, the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival announced their day-to-day lineup today for year three on June 16 and 17 with headliners Chance The Rapper, Paul Simon with yMusic, Wilco, Feist, and John Prine. Single-day tickets are on sale right now as we speak, at www.eauxclaires.com. Single-day regular Eau Claire passes run for $90, while single-day enhanced Chippewa passes run $199.

In other festival news, they announced a call for artists to have work shown on the grounds of the festival. It's an “equal opportunity” call, meaning all forms of art will be considered. All individuals and groups will be considered. Whether you are a group of dancers, students, designers, actors, or creators, they want your art. All proposals need to be submitted to creative@eauxclaires.com by March 31, 2017.

For more information, head to www.eauxclaires.com

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Autumn Defense
Bon Iver Presents John Prine and The American Songbook
Chance The Rapper
Cup 
Francis and The Lights
Happy Apple
Julieta Venegas
Mountain Man
Mouse on Mars
Poliça and s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e present Music For The Long Emergency
Quindar
S. Carey & Glenn Kotche
Sylvan Esso
This is The Kit
Tweedy
Velvet Negroni
EXC Artists-In-Residence

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Big Red Machine
Collections of Colonies of Bees
Danny Brown
Feist
Mountain Man
Mouse on Mars
Paul Simon with yMusic
Perfume Genius
Spank Rock
s-t-a-r-g-a-z-e
This Is The Kit
Wilco
Zebulon Pike
EXC Artists-In-Residence 

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Citywide April Fools Day Pillow Fight Returns w/ Big Prizes

On Saturday, April 1, 2017 Volume One will revive its citywide April Fools’ Day Pillow Fight in downtown Eau Claire, Wis. The huge community pillowfight used to be an annual tradition, held each April 1 from 2006 through 2012 until the squishy brawl went on indefinite hiatus.

So what exactly is the event? It’s "Five Minutes of Feathery Fury" – a short but lively celebration of foolishness, by which we mean a giant, five-minute pillow fight with the entire city invited. To participate, people can just show up in the Oxbow Hotel's courtyard t (a little early) with a nice, fluffy pillow. After a few announcements, at precisely 4pm, a whistle will blow. That’s the signal to start a-swinging (or people can just come to watch the fun, and many do). So grab a pillow, some friends, and get ready for some soft, feathery combat!


THE DETAILS FOR 2017

WHAT: V1’s April Fools’ Day Pillow Fight 2017
WHEN: Saturday, April 1, 2017 • 4pm, sharp
WHERE: Oxbow Hotel courtyard, at the corner of Galloway and Barstow Streets in downtown Eau Claire
WHO: Families, Friends and Neighbors – the more people the better!
WHY: A celebration of a great American holiday

ALSO: After the fight, we're giving away prizes for the following:

• Best-Costumed Individual
• Best-Costumed Team
• Best Pillow Case

PILLOW FIGHT TIPS & SUGGESTIONS

• DO take off any glasses or any sort of headgear
• DO pick on people your own size and don’t try to hurt them
• Do NOT swing at people WITHOUT pillows or WITH cameras
• Do NOT be stupid and ruin this for everybody

SERIOUS DISCLAIMER

Anyone who participates in the pillow fight does so at their OWN RISK. Volume One, the Oxbow Hotel, or any other affiliated party are not responsible in the unlikely occurrence of personal injury or wounded pride. If you do not wish to assume your own risk, then you must leave the premises. NOT leaving signifies you accept your own responsibility and are ready for some feathery fury.

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Wednesday, Mar. 8th, 2017

IN STOCK: Nickolas Butler's The Hearts of Men

Nickolas Butler at The Local Store on Monday, March 6.
Nickolas Butler at The Local Store on Monday, March 6.

We've never seen anything like it. Last Monday's reading and book release from Nickolas Butler was one of the biggest events The Local Store has hosted – the place was packed with readers and fans eager to get an early taste of Butler's second novel, The Hearts of Men, which was nationally released the following day. Butler treated the audience to selected passages, offered insight on his craft, and followed up with a thoughtful Q&A session. (See photos.)

After selling out that night – of basically everything we had with Butler's name on it – we're stocked back up with the brand new novel, which is currently People Magazine's "Book of the Week."

➜ Buy The Hearts of Men

The Hearts of Men is an epic novel of intertwining friendships and families across decades, set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, much of it at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp. Here's what The New York Times has to say …

The Hearts of Men has much to say about goodness and its opposite; about honor; and about manhood, its difficulties and precise texture. How it equivocates, how it can protect or maim. It’s not news that we’re shaped by events. But the dealt cards make for only half the game; the other half is how we play them. We are bullied, our father abandons us, our spouse up and dies. Do we give up, fall to bitterness, become stronger? That determines who we’ll be. Do we do good or do we do bad? Moral choice is the spur that sends this novel on its forward gallop. But, in a neat and difficult trick for an author to pull off, the characters’ ethical decisions are as thrilling as adventures of the flesh.” – Darin Strauss, The New York Times

MORE: Read about the book in Volume One. Butler's first novel, Shotgun Lovesongsis a New York Times bestseller. Beneath the Bonfire is a collection of Butler's short stories. 

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Tuesday, Mar. 7th, 2017

PROJEKT 2.0: Craft brewer has big plans for big new riverside space

SPOTLIGHT ON THE FUTURE. Brewing Projekt founder William Glass, left, recently showed off the brewery and taproom’s future digs, 1807 N. Oxford Ave.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE FUTURE. Brewing Projekt founder William Glass, left, recently showed off the brewery and taproom’s future digs, 1807 N. Oxford Ave.

After a protracted effort to secure a new home for his brewery and taproom, it would be understandable if William Glass just wanted to sit back and enjoy a celebratory pint of one of the Brewing Projekt’s unique beers. But the Eau Claire entrepreneur isn’t the type to rest on his laurels, especially considering that he’s aiming to move his brewing and serving operation to its new site, 1807 N. Oxford Ave., by September.

“We’ll be able to make a heckuva lot more beer in here than we can across the street.” – William Glass, on the new home for the Brewing Projekt

Just a few days after finally inking a deal with the City of Eau Claire’s Redevelopment Authority, which owns the vacant industrial property, Glass led an impromptu tour of the sprawling facility. “Getting in here we’ll have twice as much space at the drop of a hat,” Glass said, snapping his fingers. And he was just referring to one cavernous, 8,000-square-foot portion of the building, which was most recently occupied by Silvermine Stone Co. By fall, when the lease expires on the Brewing Projekt’s current home at 2000 N. Oxford Ave., Glass plans to transform this space into a new, expanded brewing facility and taproom.

However, fans of Gunpowder IPA and WisCoast Ale shouldn’t get too comfortable in the space, because the plans Glass has are much grander. Once the Brewing Projekt has settled into the new location, further renovation will begin on the 50,000-square-foot former industrial complex. Several parts of the building – which has been everything from a furniture factory to a meat-processing facility – will be torn down. Some additions will be built, including a loading dock on the north end, a riverfront patio on the east, and a permanent space for the brewing equipment where an enormous walk-in freezer now stands. Finally, the original part of the building – a three-story brick structure dating to the 1880s – will be transformed into a permanent taproom.

Glass looked down at the sprawling facility, parts of which will be demolished.
Glass looked down at the sprawling facility, parts of which will be demolished.

Considering the building doesn’t currently have heat or electricity, it’s hard to envision the final product. Soon enough, though, the spray-painted graffiti and assorted refuse will be replaced by tables and chairs overlooking stainless-steel brewing equipment. Ultimately, the second floor will be removed from the three-story part of the building, creating a spacious area with a vaulted ceiling where patrons will enjoy specialty beers as they watch them being brewed. Meanwhile, the sunlit third floor will be converted into a banquet hall-style space, which will be ideal for weddings and other private events, Glass said.

One the permanent taproom is complete, the temporary taproom will be converted into space for canning and storage. In its current 3,200-square-foot location, Glass explained, the Brewing Projekt faces serious production bottlenecks because there simply isn’t enough room to package or store beer. However, with greatly expanded space and equipment, Glass expects to increase production fivefold in the coming year. “We’ll be able to make a heckuva lot more beer in here than we can across the street,” Glass said.

The third floor of the original building will be transformed into a banquet space that connects to a rooftop deck.
The third floor of the original building will be transformed into a banquet space that connects to a rooftop deck.

In addition to a spacious, ground-level patio, the brewery will feature a 5,000-square-foot rooftop deck. Both will overlook the Chippewa River and a new bike trail the city plans to build between the High Bridge and Madison Street this year. That project will include the removal of some of the trees along the riverbank, Glass explained, which will allow for great views of Phoenix Park, the Forest Street Community Gardens, and even the hydroelectric dam upriver.

The final development and lease agreements for the building were hammered out at a special meeting of the Redevelopment Authority on Feb. 23, which concluded nearly a year of sometimes contentious negotiations between the parties. Most recently, Glass and the RDA disagreed over who would be responsible for environmental cleanup on the site. However, even after that issue was resolved – the city will cover $30,000 of the estimated $55,000 cost of removing asbestos – the parties had to resolve a last-minute disagreement over the exact size and shape of the property Glass was purchasing. Finally, they settled on a size (exactly 50,000 square feet) and a price ($250,000). “I wasn’t excited,” Glass said. “I’d like to say that I was happy, but the main emotion was just relief.”

City leaders expressed similar sentiments. “It feels really good to have that first project going into the Cannery District,” city economic development director Mike Schatz told the Leader-Telegram, referring to the riverside neighborhood that the city plans to redevelop. Now, with the Brewing Projekt as an anchor, the work to revive this part of Eau Claire’s center can proceed.

Learn more at thebrewingprojekt.com, or search for the Brewing Projekt on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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Blugold Radio Seeking Donations for New Studio

In thier cramped studio space, Blugold Radio station manager Scott Morfitt (right) works the dials while social media manager Jordan Duroe thoroughly enjoys himself.
In their cramped, temporary studio space, Blugold Radio station manager Scott Morfitt (right) works the dials while host Jordan Duroe thoroughly enjoys himself.

Campus-based independent radio station Blugold Radio (99.9 FM) has launched a crowdfunding effort to pay for a new studio. The nonprofit station, which is owned by the UWEC Foundation, went on the air last summer from a temporary studio in Hibbard Hall. The new studio, which will be built near the main desk of McIntyre Library, will give the station space and flexibility for on-air features, interviews, in-studio performances, and literary readings. Blugold Radio says donations will be used for construction, ventilation, and sound dampening. If the station reaches its $7,000 goal, a donor has promised a $5,000 matching gift. To learn more or to make a donation, visit blugoldradio.org.

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Thursday, Mar. 2nd, 2017

Uber Joins Lyft in Giving Eau Clairans a Ride

Not to be outdone by ride-sharing app Lyft, which expanded into Eau Claire just last week, rival service Uber is now also available right here in the city.

Like Lyft, Uber works through a smartphone app allowing users to connect with a nearby driver, who – much like a taxi – will pick them up and deliver them to their destination. The user can then pay instantly through the app, without worrying about cash.

To kick things off, Eau Claire Uber users can get two free rides (up to $15) with the promo code RIDEEAUCLAIRE. The promo runs from noon today (March 2) through midnight on Sunday (March 5).

Local Uber service also includes uberXL, offering rides for larger parties (up to six passengers).

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Wednesday, Mar. 1st, 2017

Is Wisconsin the Best State? Read on for the Answer, Which Is "No"

US News has released its annual ranking of US states based on a dumptruck load of data. They rank all 50 hunks of the Union in seven subcategories (and more than five dozen sub-subcategories) and then use those rankings to produce an overarching MEGA RANK (my own term). All of this data indicates how well a state is “performing for its citizens.”

The main subcategories are Health Care, Education, Crime and Corrections, Infrastructure, Opportunity, Economy, and Government. Scores in Health Care and Education weigh more heavily in the MEGA RANK because they tend to have the greatest impact on our daily lives.

And where did this data come from? According to US News, “The data driving these rankings were drawn from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources as well as proprietary data including a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country.” (Their methodology actually seems pretty comprehensive. Scroll down.)

But What About Us?

Wisconsin didn’t fair too bad in this year’s poll. The data doctors at US News put us at #16 overall, just ahead of a tiny state called “New York.” Our best sub-ranking was in Government (#5) while our worst was in Infrastructure (#37). Check it out ...

Wisconsin - #16

Health Care - #21
Education - #17
Crime and Corrections - #10
Infrastructure - #37
Opportunity - #14
Economy - #35
Government - #5

Minnesota, meanwhile received fantastic scores, coming in at #3 overall. You'll find Illinois at #29 and Michigan at #33. Massachusetts took #1 (tops in Health Care and Education) while Louisiana took #50. 

Go ahead and check out all of Wisconsin's sub-rankings and sub-sub-rankings right here, along with a big ol' writeup with lots of state history. Takeaways ...

Wisconsin's Deep Data Takeaways

Find these rankings and a whole lot more here.

#1 in Child Wellness Visits but #50 in Child Dental Visits
#3 in High School Graduation Rate and #1 in Pre-K Quality
#1 in Low Prison Overpopulation
#47 for Equality in Juvenile Jailing
#49 in Road Quality
#1 in Power Grid Reliability
#23 in Households with Internet Access
#5 in Low Food Insecurity
#48 in Employment Equality by Race
#43 in Racial Gap in Income
#47 in Growth of Young Population
#16 in Low Unemployment Rate
#6 in Government Budget Transparency

• US News mentions how we are the home of the "Butterburger" and "Cheeseheads.” Multiple times.

• “This state of 5.8 million people is 87 percent white, 7 percent black, 3 percent of Asian descent – with 7 percent identifying as Hispanic.”

• “The state’s median household income, $55,638, in 2015, was close to the national average. Its unemployment rate ran at just over 4 percent, below the national average.”

• “Three of the state’s five largest industrial sectors are related to paper and printing. And among the 37 largest enterprises, 36 are in manufacturing such as electrical equipment-making ... Aware of this reliance on traditional manufacturing, the state is exploring new development.”

• “The state ranks first in cheese-making – cheddar, American and Muenster in particular – and cranberries, snap beans and corn for silage.”

• “More than a quarter of Wisconsin adults have bachelor’s degrees or higher. In addition to 13 four-year campuses of the University of Wisconsin, the state is home to many private colleges.”

• “The majority of the state’s adults are Protestants, with Catholics accounting for about 25 percent – though fewer than half say religion represents a very important part of their lives.”

• “The state has maintained an independent streak, splitting its vote between Republicans and Democrats for president for much of the 20th century. After supporting Democrats since 1988, Wisconsin became one of the long Democratic-leaning Midwestern states that gave Republican Donald Trump his 2016 edge in the Electoral College.”

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