Friday, Jun. 27th, 2014

5 Gut-Busting Wisconsin Food Challenges

Waaaaaay too much meat from Ward’s House of Prime, Milwaukee, Wis.
Waaaaaay too much meat from Ward’s House of Prime, Milwaukee, Wis.

You ever just feel like a photo of your face belongs somewhere on a wall? Are your mouth and stomach impressively large? Perhaps you should consider taking on one of the many restaurant food challenges found throughout Wisconsin. Here’re five to get you going ...

1. Zesty’s Custard Challenge

City: Allouez

Time Limit: 1 Hour

The Feat: A bowl larger than your head filled with custard, whip cream, cookies, ice cream cones, chocolate sauce … and a cherry on top. 

The Prize: T-Shirt, Gift-Card, and the obligatory photo on the wall of fame.

2. Dublin Square Pub’s Emerald Isle’s Enormous Pot Pie

City: La Crosse

Time Limit: 1 Hour 

The Feat: Requiring a 24 hour notice, this six pound behemoth contains all the classic ingredients: chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, onion, and garlic.

The Prize: T-Shirt, photo on the wall, and you don’t even have to pay for your meal.

3. Ward’s House of Prime’s Prime Rib Challenge

City: Milwaukee and Delafield

Time Limit: One Sitting

The Feat: Order any of the jumbo cuts named after previous winners ranging from the 40 oz. Baby Dane to the 168 oz. Awesome Fat. Or just order 8 oz. above the largest cut, and it’ll be named after you.

The Prize: Caricature on the Wall of Fame, sense of satisfaction or possibly a jumbo cut named in your honor.

4. WeatherVane’s Tsunami Challenge

City: Menasha

Time Limit: 1 Hour

The Feat: They require you sign an insurance waiver for this baby: a seven pound dish including a 14-ingredient omelet, hash browns, pancakes, and toast. 
Prize: The tsunami is on the house, photo on the wall of fame... and a free trip to your local hospital.

5. Willie Beamons Bar and Grill’s Mad Cow Burger

City: Neenah

Time Limit: 30 Minutes

The Feat: Let us first recognize the brilliance of the name. Now it’s a two and a half pound burger, with one pound of Cheddar cheese, and all the other essential toppings. The burger is presented on a cozy bed of fries and a steak knife down the middle.

The Prize: Burger on the house, and a photo on the wall of fame.

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Thursday, Jun. 26th, 2014

Dose of Nostalgia: Old Kerm's Photo

Image: Walker Grocery Group
Image: Walker Grocery Group

After seeing this awesome old photo of Kerm's posted by Robert Scott to the You Know You're From Eau Claire When … Facebook page, we tracked down Googled for the source – and found the image hosted by the Walker Grocery Group – the current iteration of the family business that first opened "Kerm's Super Foods" on Water Street in 1967.*  

For those of you new to town, Kerm's was an iconic neighborhood grocery store which closed in late 2006. It was where Burrachos is now.

As commenters on the YKYFECW post pointed out, you can see Water Street's old streetcar tracks paved over with blacktop, and a Water's Beer sign painted on what's now The Pickle tavern. And as I now point out, check out the sweet rides and fantastic retro sign balls.

•According to the Walker Grocery Group. We've seen other sources citing 1964 as the year Kerm's opened on Water Street. Before that, the store was located on the corner of Menomonie and Ferry streets.

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Wednesday, Jun. 25th, 2014

Who wants to plan Eau Claire's next decade?

The focus of Eau Claire's next Comprehensive Plan will be on revitalizing the downtown area and adjacent, older neighborhoods.Do you care about your hometown? I mean, really care – enough to make sure that its next decade is even better than its last? If you’re from Eau Claire and you’re reading this, the answer is hopefully, “Heck, yeah!” If so, you’re the kind of person the City of Eau Claire is looking for. The city is poised to revise its comprehensive plan and is looking for volunteers with a “keen desire in seeing how the community develops over the next 10 years,” explains Darryl Tufte, city director of community development. Under state law, the city must revise the plan – which sets growth and development policy for land use, transportation, parks, public services, and much more – once a decade. A major rewrite was done in 2005, and a less-extensive (but still vital) process will begin again after the city Plan Commission appoints a 30-40 member advisory committee in August. Some members will be chosen from specific city boards and commissions or from neighborhood, community, and business groups; others will be concerned citizens like you. Since the current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2005, much work has been done setting policies about growth on the city’s edges. Now, Tufte says, the focus will be more on revitalizing the downtown area and adjacent, older neighborhoods. Meetings will be 7-9pm the second Thursday of each month, beginning Sept. 11 and ending next June. Check out the City website to learn more.

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Tuesday, Jun. 24th, 2014

Field Report announces sophomore LP

Former Eau Clairian Chris Porterfield made some waves with his first album as Field Report, picking up national press and touring the country many times over. The now Milwaukee native also snagged locals Shane Leonard and Ben Lester to join the group on drums and pedal steel, respectively.

Now – in an interview with Stereogum – Porterfield announced the group's second album, Marigolden, which will be out Oct. 7 via Partison Records. The group has been recording the album in the great white north of Canada in between shows this year. Watch a teaser (with a sampling of music) below and hopefully we'll see these locals come home again soon.

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Monday, Jun. 23rd, 2014

Governor Walker speaks in support of the Confluence Project

Gov. Scott Walker at
Gov. Scott Walker at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire. Image source

At a lunch event Monday afternoon with the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made comments in support of the Confluence Project. On Twitter, WQOW reporter Aarik Woods quoted Gov. Walker, saying, "It's a great partnership with public, private sector, so I support going forward with this project," while WQOW's main Twitter feed quotes Walker as saying, "We think that's an important project not just for Eau Claire and not just for UW-EC, but for this entire region."

In the past, Walker has expressed interest in the partnership model seen in the proposed Confluence Project, saying at a press event on June 5, 2013, "We're very interested in it. What I like about this particular project in Eau Claire is it's leveraging public and private dollars."

The "Business Luncheon with Governor Walker" event took place on Monday, June 23 at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire. The Leader-Telegram has a few more details.

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5 Lesser Known Wisconsin Superstars

Above: Revered Wisconsinite.
Above: Revered Wisconsinite.

There are certainWisconsinites who’ve given our state genuine bragging rights (Harry Houdini, Orson Welles, I’m looking at you), but they aren’t only people we should be proud of. Below are just some of the lesser known, but still influential Wisconsin natives. Pay your respects. 

1. Donald Goerke

Donald Goerke, a Waukesha homeboy, left Wisconsin only to impact the childhood of generations. As a Campbell Soup Company executive, he not only created the classic Chunky soup, but the iconic SpaghettiOs. That’s right, if it wasn’t for him, we’d have no choice but to eat spaghetti….with non-circular noodles. What a disgrace.

2. Joel Hodgson

In the town of Stevens Point, on a cold day in February in 1960, a man was born. That man would go on to create the cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. That man is Joel Hodgson. The Comedy Central show defined the technique of movie riffing and showed a positive example of a robot-human relationship.

3. Virginia Mae Morrow

Going back a little further in time, a controversial woman of the 1950s had roots in our dear capital. Virginia Mae Morrow underwent numerous hypnosis sessions that revealed a previous life as Irish Bridey Murphy. The detailed account of her previous life spawned a reincarnation sensation across the nation resulting in movies, books, and even themed parties.

4. Barbie

Fictional? Yes. Too iconic to ignore? Yes. The one and only Barbie was born in Wisconsin. As written in the fictional biography published in the early ‘60s, Barbie, or Barbara Millicent Roberts, was born in the fabricated town of Willows. She, of course, went on to accomplish pretty much anything possible. And impossible.

5. John Matuszak and BONUS! John Fiedler

Wisconsin is home to some pretty famous actors (Chris Farley, Gene Wilder, etc.), but two lesser known Wisconsinites were responsible for some of the most lovable characters in film and TV. Those actors would be ... John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet and John Matuszak, Sloth from The Goonies. Would the world have been the same without them?

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Sunday, Jun. 22nd, 2014
Saturday, Jun. 21st, 2014
Friday, Jun. 20th, 2014

Mosquitapocalpse 2014

Hey, what's up. I invited trillions of my friends over, is that cool?
Hey, what's up. I invited trillions of my friends over, is that cool?

If you’re anything like the other 5 million people living in Wisconsin, you’ve probably noticed the state is being swarmed with mosquitoes. According to an article posted by Wisconsin Public Radio, the pesky little bugs have gotten so bad that canoe/kayak rental businesses on the Wisconsin River have been turning customers away to save them from being eaten alive, and hardware stores are struggling to keep insect repellent on the shelves. It’s a straight up mosquitapocalpse.

As if we didn’t think mosquitos were irritating enough, UW-Madison entomologist PJ Liesch tells us that their eggs have no qualms with below freezing temperatures and were able to survive just fine all winter while we humans were bundled up by our fireplaces. However, this summer's insect influx is due mainly to the speedy rise in temperatures and consequent rain after an especially long winter – the perfect conditions for mosquito mania.  

But don’t give up hope! Liesch told the Star Tribune that early studies have predicted that this, too, shall pass, and the rest of the summer should be pretty typical. Mosquitoes will continue to hatch throughout the next several months, but with consistent temperatures, the numbers should return to normal in a matter of time. In fact, predictions that this summer might be a bit cooler than average give reason to believe that we may even see fewer mosquitoes than usual as the summer goes on.

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Thursday, Jun. 19th, 2014

Fantastic 1920s Aerial Photo of the Confluence

Image: Steve Johnson
Image: Steve Johnson | Make it bigger!

Check out this great old aerial photo showing the Eau Claire river right before it runs into the Chippewa – from the 1920s. Steve Johnson posted the image (a cropped version of a photograph given to him) to the You Know You Are From Eau Claire When... Facebook page last month. Eldbjorg Tobinm, who helps maintain the  Chippewa Valley Museum’s collection of historic photos tells us the photo was taken sometime between 1920 and 1926. You can zero in on the timeframe by seeing which buildings are and aren’t yet standing.

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