Friday, Jan. 24th, 2020

Eau Claire Taps Local Designer for New City Logo

This week, the City of Eau Claire rolled out a brand new city logo designed by RT Vrieze of the local design firm Knorth Studios, which features woods, water, open spaces, big skies, buildings, and bridges. The city’s previous logo was drawn up nearly 20 years ago by Brian Amundson, who worked for the city for 25 years as an engineer and public works director before retiring in May 2013. So the main spirit of this new look is to reflect the city’s remarkable evolution in the time since. Now, at the dawn of a new decade, this new logo hopes to encapsulate the spirit of this place with one iconic image.

Here's what Vrieze had to say about the thought process going into this project:

"The most challenging and fun part of the logo process for us is the research. For example, we asked younger and older generations what they think of when they think of Eau Claire? We had so many different answers. Ultimately, we found all the answers to be very colorful. So we knew we needed the logo to be vibrant and full of life. The next step was to choose which elements to use within the logo; a sunset, a valley, pine trees, rivers, buildings, and of course the new walk bridge at the Confluence. We used almost all rounded edges for all the natural elements within the logo and squared edges for the human-made elements (bridge and buildings). Our biggest fear was/is for older demographics to feel that it's too big of a change and that it doesn't accurately represent Eau Claire. We understand that change can be a hard transition sometimes, so in order for that change to be a little less dramatic, we paid homage to the original logo, designed by City of Eau Claire Engineer Brian Amundson, and included the two buildings, rolling hill, and trees from the original logo. We felt it was important to include the new Confluence walk bridge as a representation of the future of Eau Claire.

It's been an honor to be able to create a logo for the city we call home, this was a special project for us as a company and we can't wait to see how people react to it. Personally, to be able to create a logo that a community can choose to stand behind and have it be a symbol of pride they have for their city is really special to me. It goes beyond graphic design at that point. I hope people grasp onto it and take ownership of it, it was made for them."

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Friday, Jan. 10th, 2020

Get a Sneak Peek at Discover Wisconsin’s Brand-New Menomonie Episode

Viewers in eight states will be treated a four-season look at the city of Menomonie in a soon-to-air episode of the long-running tourism series “Discover Wisconsin.” (Or you could watch it above!) The program’s hosts, Mariah Haberman and Collin Geraghty, take viewers on a rapid-fire tour of everything from fast summer night at the Red Cedar Speedway to winter evenings in the historic Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts to spring lambing season at Govin’s Farm.

“This city brings the excitement of a college town and the charm of the northwoods together,” Haberman says during the episode. “It’s fun, it’s eclectic, it’s beautiful, and it’s all year long.”

The episode will premiere on a network of broadcast and cable stations the weekend of Jan. 18-20. In the Eau Claire area, it will be shown on WQOW-TV (Channel 18) at 5pm on Sunday, Jan. 19. A free viewing party for the episode will be at 3pm on Monday, Jan. 13, at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, 205 Main St. E. And if you just can’t wait that long, the episode is already available online at DiscoverWisconsin.com.

Dustyn Dubuque, executive director of Downtown Menomonie Inc., said the episode emphasizes how much there is to do in Menomonie no matter what the season. For example, the fall segment features the annual Ladies’ Night Out in October, which brings crowds of women – many decked out for Halloween – to visit the unique boutiques that downtown Menomonie offers.

Jake’s Supper Club
Jake’s Supper Club

The episode begins by showcasing warm-weather activities in Menomonie, including dining outdoors at Jake’s Supper Club, the annual Lake Menomin Water X event (which features snowmobiles – yes, snowmobiles in the summer! – racing across the open water of Menomonie’s landmark lake), watching dirt-track racing at Red Cedar Speedway.

“You better be prepared for a noisy environment,” Haberman says during her visit to the racetrack. “You’re going to get a little bit dirty. But that energy, that excitement in the air is so palpable. If you really want to experience Menomonie and what it’s all about, this is such an iconic part of this city.”

The episode also highlights UW-Stout, Whispering Emerald Ridge Game Farm (where you can shoot sporting clays from inside a heated lodge in the winter), the Mabel Tainter Theater, disc golfing and ice fishing, Tanglewood Greens Golf Course, Zymurgy Brewing Co., and Govin’s Farm, where springtime visitors can cuddle with just-born critters. “I would say this is one of the more authentic and integrated farms that I’ve been to where you really are seeing actual things happening in real time,” gushes Geraghty, one of the hosts.

“Discover Wisconsin” – which has also produced episodes on Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls in recent years – sent crews to Menomonie numerous times last year to capture all four seasons in the community. “I hope we get more tourists from this episode,” said Maya Canon, program coordinator for the Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce, which collaborated with Discover Wisconsin to create the episode. “I think it shows how interesting Menomonie can be.”

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Monday, Dec. 30th, 2019
Friday, Dec. 20th, 2019

Stuck in 2019? Here Are Some Local Events to Ring in the New Year

A Naalia New Year - Live at The Plus

Friday, December 27, 8:30-11:30pm. $5 in advance, $10 at the door. Hosted by The Plus (208 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire, WI). Tickets available at Volumeonetickets.org

Naalia is Black-Hispanic R&B artist from Eau Claire, WI. She was introduced to the EC music scene back in March when she released her live version of her song "Minor Harmonies" off of her upcoming EP with Converge Radio for NPR's 'Tiny Desk Contest'. She continues to use her music to be a voice for those who often feel they don't have their own. Opening for Naalia will be Emily Watkins and Mikoy. Full event description available here


New Year's Eve At The Lismore

Tuesday, December 31, 8pm-1am. 21+ event. Tickets start at $55. Hosted in the Lismore Hotel (333 Gibson Street, Eau Claire, WI). Tickets available at Volumeonetickets.org

The Lismore is hosting its first ever New Years Party. Tickets include one drink voucher, a complimentary champagne toast at midnight and a deluxe hors d'oeuvres buffet to keep you satiated as you dance the night away to the energizing tunes of Blue Water Kings from Minneapolis. Event ends at 1am. Full event description available here


Roaring 20's British New Year's Eve at Duke & Dagger

Tuesday, December 31, 4-8:30pm. Hosted by the Duke and Dagger ( 120 6th Avenue West, Menomonie, WI. Reservations highly recommended. 

Celebrate the British new year when; when its midnight in London it'll be 6pm here in WIsconsin. Live music and various performers featuring some 20s inspired songs. Champagne toast at 6pm Flapper dresses and 20s attire encouraged but not required. Full event description available here


Keep scrolling for a full list of Chippewa Valley New Year's Eve events below ...

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Tuesday, Dec. 17th, 2019

YMCA Pulls Out of Sonnentag Center Project

Images: Ayres Associates and Kahler Slater | Click images for a closer look.
Previous concept image for Sonnentag Center (Ayres Associates and Kahler Slater) | Click image for a closer look.

UWEC, Mayo Plan to Continue Plans for Multimillion-Dollar Event and Recreation Center on Menomonie Street

The Chippewa Valley YMCA will no longer be part of a collaboration to build a shared event and recreation complex on Menomonie Street spearheaded by UW-Eau Claire.

Eau Claire Community Complex Inc. – the nonprofit entity that plans to break ground next summer on the Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex – announced Tuesday that it “has determined the facility is unable to proceed with the Chippewa Valley Family YMCA as a participant.” The $90 million to $100 million project will now undergo a “significant redesign,” backers say.

A “guiding principal” of the YMCA is not starting the project until its portion of the fundraising is largely complete, YMCA Executive Director Theresa Hillis said in a news release. The dearth of fundraising “raised concerns that significant capital debt could put the long-term fiscal well-being of the YMCA at risk to deliver on their mission,” the press release stated. It continued:

“As stated by the (Eau Claire Community Complex) Board, every partner in the project has its own needs, requirements, and governing policies. The current project timeline, and adhering to the principle that we cannot build what is not funded, led to the decision the YMCA is unable to proceed,” Hillis said.

ECCC also announced that, while the project is unable to proceed with the YMCA as a participant, the other project partners – UW-Eau Claire, Blugold Real Estate, and Mayo Clinic Health System – remain fully committed to the project.

The Sonnentag Complex project includes a multi-purpose major event center, a recreation and fitness facility, and Mayo Clinic Health System sports medicine, imaging and human performance clinic. As originally envisioned, the YMCA and UW-Eau Claire would have shared the recreation and fitness facility which was intended to replace the existing YMCA on Graham Avenue and expand recreation and fitness facilities for UW-Eau Claire. Because the project is unable to proceed with the YMCA as a participant, a significant redesign of the recreation and fitness facility component of the Sonnentag Complex project will be necessary. That redesign will begin immediately, according to Kimera Way, president of the ECCC Board.

“We entered into this project in good faith and have worked closely together on the programming and design of the Sonnentag Complex – all partners have great respect for the missions, visions and goals of each of the organizations involved. And we are hopeful we will have continued opportunities to pursue mutually beneficial initiatives in the future,” Way said.

Way, who also serves as president of the UWEC Foundation, added that the Eau Claire Community Complex’s board will continue to work with the UW System Board of Regents and Mayo Clinic Health System to redesign the project and gain the approvals needed to break ground on Menomonie Street by July 2020.

“John and Carolyn Sonnentag are rightfully anxious to see this project move forward,” Way said, referring to the alumni couple who are the project’s major donors. “They made their lead gift announcement in August 2014 and the ECCC board is committed to achieving their vision for this transformative project.”

Added UWEC Chancellor James Schmidt: “UW-Eau Claire has demonstrated needs for both an event center to replace Zorn Arena and expanded recreation and fitness facilities for our students. This project will fulfill those needs, will provide additional academic programming opportunities, and will enable the university and Mayo Clinic Health System to collaborate even more closely on important research and wellness programs that will benefit our campus, community and region.”

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Blue Ox Unleashes 2020 Lineup

Today, the Blue Ox Music Festival lineup arrived for the sixth annual fest happening June 11-13, 2020 among the trees at Whispering Pines Campground, with some cool new facets this year. 

Gov’t Mule, Sam Bush Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Charlie Parr, and of course Pert Near Sandstone head up the star-studded slate of artists this year, with the promise of another big headliner to be announced in January. There’s a couple of Eau Claire’s own on there too: Them Coulee Boys will return to Blue Ox hot off the release of this year’s Die Happy, and for the first time, bar-rockin’ country punks Pit Wagon are on the official lineup.

Blue Ox’s legendary late night sets have become a staple in the full musical experience since its inception, often featuring wild collaborations between wide-ranging artists. But this year, they’re adding to that with The Backwoods Stage, which will specifically feature regional and emerging artists. The Backwoods Stage’s first round looks like this: Miles Over Mountains, Nickle & Rose, Good Morning Bedlam, The Thirsty River, Dig Deep, Never Come Down, Pit Wagon, Katey Bellville, Gabe Barnett, and Doug Otto and the Getaways.

As the festival grows bit by bit over the years, its heart remains intact with some of the best and brightest stars of Americana all coming here for a magical weekend in June.

2020 Blue Ox Lineup*

*headliner to be announced in January
Gov’t Mule
Pert Near Sandstone
Sam Bush Band
The Infamous Stringdusters
Yonder Mountain String Band
Leftover Salmon
Charlie Parr
The Jerry Douglas Band
Rising Appalachia
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Charley Crockett
Henhouse Prowlers w/ Tony Trischka
Lillie Mae
Them Coulee Boys
Legendary Shack Shakers
Sunny War
Julian Davis & The Situation
Nora Brown
Arkansauce
Armchair Boogie
Kind Country
One Way Traffic
Short Round String Band
Feed The Dog
Intuitive Compass
Barbaro
The High 48s
Miles Over Mountains
Nickle & Rose
Good Morning Bedlam
The Thirsty River
Dig Deep
Never Come Down
Pit Wagon
Katey Bellville
Gabe Barnett
Doug Otto and the Getaways

The Backwoods Stage

Miles Over Mountains
Good Morning Bedlam
Never Come Down
Pit Wagon
Doug Otto and the Gettaways
Nickle & Rose
The Thirsty River
Dig Deep
Katey Bellville
Gabe Barnett

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Monday, Dec. 9th, 2019
Wednesday, Dec. 4th, 2019

WATCH: Aaron Rodgers and Justin Vernon Talk for 40 Minutes at Lambeau Field

Well, today GQ posted a video that's likely to melt the hearts of Wisconsinites all over the state into puddles of cheesy goop. Brace yourself and watch in awe as two of the state's most well-known dudes, two iconoclasts of Wisconsin culture, two kings of the north talk about ... stuff. For over 40 minutes.

That’s right – Aaron Rodgers (star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, NASCAR husband, hail mary king, the guy from the insurance ads and hospital billboards) and Justin Vernon (guy from Eau Claire, is in a band) had a meeting of the minds, a tête-à-tête if you will, in the heart of Lambeau Field for GQ’s One-on-One series. And, whattaya know, they filmed it.

Rodgers and an often giddy Vernon talk about centering oneself before performances, Aaron's goal to play until he is 40, the story behind Bon Iver's "Holocene" (which NPR listeners just named their favorite song of the decade), and a bunch of other stuff. 

You’re probably already watching it, and not really reading this anymore, so I’m just gonna stop writing now. Enjoy!

Psssst. Around the 26.50 mark, Rodgers references The Pickle. 

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Monday, Nov. 25th, 2019

Eau Claire Library Announces "Dabble Box Maker's Residency"

Do you have a artistic skill, hobby or ability that you believe others could learn from? Would you like to share your knowledge with students of all ages?  L.E Phillip's Memorial Library will be hosting a "dabbler in residence" throughout the Spring and Summer here in Eau Claire through their Dabble Box program. 

The residencies will run for four weeks, with three two-hour classes per week, with the sessions running from March 2–27 and August 3–29. Before you panic about how to fund your dabbling tutorials, remember that you won't necessarily have to pay out-of-pocket for supplies, with a $750 stipend and up to $500 in supply reimbursement made available through the L.E Phillips Memorial Public Library Endowment Fund. 

If you are interested in applying to be a dabbler in residence or for more information about the Dabble Box program, visit www.ecpubliclibrary.info/dabblerinresidence.  With the application deadline being this December 15, participants are encouraged to apply sooner than later! 

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Wednesday, Nov. 20th, 2019

Bon Iver Nominated for 2020 Grammy Awards (Including Album of the Year)

Just this morning – the day before a series of "Eaux Claires Hiver" shows planned by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon are set to start in downtown Eau Claire – the Grammy Awards released their list of nominees for 2020, and Bon Iver is nominated for four of ‘em, including (for the first time) Album Of The Year for this year’s i,i. Pretty big deal. The band is in pretty steep competition this year among a crew of wildly talented and young stars like Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X. 

Justin Vernon has been vocally critical of the music industry awards show in past years, calling it a “shit show” and tweeting stuff like: “The Grammies are for the music Industry. Music, itself, is for everywhere else and everyone else. Good to remember.” Still, even though it’s happened a couple times now, an Eau Claire band getting recognized on that level is pretty crazy to think about. 

Remember, Bon Iver won two Grammys in 2012 for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album for Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The band was nominated in 2017 for 22, A Million in the Best Alternative Music Album category, but didn’t win.

Here’s the list of the categories where Bon Iver is nominated in 2020:

RECORD OF THE YEAR

"Hey, Ma," Bon Iver
"Bad Guy," Billie Eilish
"7 Rings," Ariana Grande
"Hard Place," H.E.R.
"Talk," Khalid
"Old Town Road," Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
"Truth Hurts," Lizzo
"Sunflower," Post Malone & Swae Lee

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

i,i, Bon Iver
Norman F---ing Rockwell!, Lana Del Rey
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish
Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande
I Used to Know Her, H.E.R.
7, Lil Nas X
Cuz I Love You (Deluxe), Lizzo
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

U.F.O.F., Big Thief
Assume Form, James Blake
i,i, Bon Iver
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
Anima, Thom Yorke

BEST RECORDING PACKAGE

Anónimas & Resilientes, Voces Del Bullerengue
Chris Cornell, Chris Cornell
Hold That Tiger, The Muddy Basin Ramblers
i,i, Bon Iver
Intellexual, Intellexual

Reporting on the nominations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listed Bon Iver's local connections besides Vernon himself ...

In addition to Vernon, other Wisconsin natives named in the Bon Iver nominations for the two major categories were co-producer and co-writer Brad Cook from Eau Claire and co-engineer/mixer Zach Hanson from Chippewa Falls. The band also includes Lake Geneva native Sean Carey and La Crosse native Andrew Fitzpatrick.

Also worth noting, the Sentinel points out the major mainstream artists who didn't make the Grammy cut for Album of the Year ...

Nevertheless, "i,i" was one of eight album of the year nominees announced Wednesday morning. Grammy darlings like Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga (for "A Star Is Born") were shut out in the category. 

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