Friday, Dec. 19th, 2014

Saturday: Here We Go A-Parading

The 2012 Clearwater Winter Parade.
The 2012 Clearwater Winter Parade

Eau Claire's Clearwater Winter Parade is shaping up for Saturday, Dec. 20, running 5–6pm. This year’s parade will start near the County Courthouse on Grand Avenue, then proceed down First Avenue and past Owen Park. Following the parade, family games, ice skating, and a bonfire will be hosted from 6–8pm at Hobbs Ice Center (915 Menomonie St.). All proceeds from the parade benefit youth recreation scholarships through Eau Claire Parks and Recreation. Bundle up!

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Thursday, Dec. 18th, 2014

Eau Claire Transit offers fantastic real-time bus tracking whizbangery

This is just … so aweosme. A few weeks ago, Eau Clare Transit pulled (what I'm sure is) a giant activation lever on a new real-time bus tracking website through DoubleMap. With the amazing power of GPS, you can track our fine city's busses via computer or smartphone. This means you can whip out your phone and pull up a map of the city's bus routes to see each bus moving along the streets of Eau Claire like you're friggin' James Bond. 'Tis great fun.

The map not only displays routes and real-time bus movement, it also shows you where the bus stops are and it can even estimate your wait time LIKE MAGIC. To get the phone app, get to the App Store or Google Play.

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Wednesday, Dec. 17th, 2014

Justin Vernon and The National's Aaron Dessner to co-curate Eaux Claires Festival

The Country Jam grounds – site of 2015's Eaux Claires music and art festival,  for which two-day passes will go on sale Thursday.
The Country Jam grounds – site of 2015's Eaux Claires music and art festival,
for which two-day passes will go on sale Thursday.

Even though no lineup has officially been announced (and won’t be for a bit), ticket presale for the Justin Vernon-curated Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival began Dec. 18, at noon (CST).

A limited number of two-day general admission passes (called “Eau Claire” passes) and enhanced passes (“Chippewa” passes) went on sale with the launch of the festival’s website at www.eauxclaires.com. Two-day Eau Claire passes are $100; two-day Chippewa passes are $200 and include “complimentary beverages on festival grounds during show hours” because Wisconsin.

The presale also included a few three-night camping passes at different levels with prices starting at $100. And for non-campers, other local lodging options will be available.

“After several years of touring and playing music festivals of all different types around the world, I wanted to put together an event that would honor what we love about this place — including an independent attitude and blaze orange caps — but also shine a light on less familiar and surprising elements that are already weaving themselves into our future.” – Justin Vernon

We can officially tell you that Eaux Claires, a two-day festival slated for July 17 and 18 at Foster Farm (the same grounds as Country Jam) just outside Eau Claire is a collaboration not only between Vernon and Crash Line Productions (the crew behind the similar-minded Boston Calling festival), but also with Aaron Dessner, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for The National.

"Justin and I have been friends and collaborators for years,” Dessner said – he and Vernon collaborated on a bunch of stuff including the heartwrenching “Big Red Machine,” a song recorded for Dark Was The Night, a 2009 compilation Dessner helped curate to benefit the Red Hot Organization, an international HIV/AIDS awareness charity.

"Working together to create and curate Eaux Claires is something we've been talking about for a long time,” Dessner said. “To finally see it come together, and to imagine the music, art, and community the festival will bring together, is very exciting."

Eaux Claires will have three stages: One main stage, a smaller main stage, and a tent stage for quieter after-hours parties. Off-stage, it’ll have visual art, innovative integrations of music and light (courtesy of Michael Brown, a stage and lighting designer who’s done stage design for The National, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver and even the latest Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour), locally-sourced food and drinks, and many other “artistic and experiential elements to surprise and delight attendees.”

Volume One will announce the lineup for this huge thing early next year, but to solicit a little trust and to reassure presale buyers to go for it, Vernon is confident the festival will be unique and an experience in itself. Trust him on this one.

“After several years of touring and playing music festivals of all different types around the world, I wanted to put together an event that would honor what we love about this place – including an independent attitude and blaze orange caps – but also shine a light on less familiar and surprising elements that are already weaving themselves into our future,” Vernon said. “Having this festival right in my backyard gives me and the guest artists a chance to share familiar work and new creations in a setting close to my heart and different than any other stage in the world. To create this event within view of the Chippewa River – the very river that defines this place – makes it all the more meaningful.  We’re fortunate because the Chippewa Valley already has a history of great music festivals. Everyone – the city, the county, and the Country Jam folks – has been very supportive. They’re helping us take it beyond music and into a celebration of film, art, and things still in the works... just walking around the place is going to be an experience.”

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Tuesday, Dec. 16th, 2014

Wanna buy a wind-powered brewfarm?

Dave’s BrewFarm, west of Menomonie.
Dave’s BrewFarm, west of Menomonie.
Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson

Every time a brewery closes down, an angel loses its wings. I don’t make this stuff up, folks. But you can stop that from happening by purchasing Dave’s BrewFarm, a working brewery located in Wilson, west of Menomonie. Dave’s BrewFarm, available for only $500,000, is an innovative, wind-powered craft brewery tucked away on 35 acres in rural St. Croix County. It is a traditional farmhouse brewery, complete with tasting room, a walk-in cooler, and a wraparound deck that overlooks the rolling hills of the countryside. Dave Anderson and his wife, Pam Dixon, created the brewery five years ago, and while they’ve enjoyed the ride, they are ready for a new challenge. Anderson is a certified beer judge (I could’ve sworn that was my college major, too!) so he wants to continue to work with beer, while Dixon is a college of business and economics lecturer at UW-River Falls and is hoping to find a tenured position teaching business and business ethics. “We’re looking for a new caretaker for the BrewFarm to carry on what we’ve built,” they wrote in a blog post at www.davesbrewfarm.com. “Not sure if it will sell as a turnkey venture for the next brewer extraordinaire, or to another entrepreneur who will do great things with the facility and property, or perhaps someone who will grow it as a farm business. Possibilities are endless!” Without any offers on the table, it looks like Dave’s BrewFarm might just come to an end. Hopefully someone steps up and buys this beautiful brewery. It would truly be a Christmas miracle. 

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Sunday, Dec. 14th, 2014
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