Thursday, Mar. 19th, 2015

Monday: Confluence Project Supporters to Rally in Rice Lake

The Wisconsin state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee – the next critical group to decide the future of the Confluence Project – is holding a public hearing in Rice Lake on Monday, March 23. Supporters are hoping for a strong turnout from the Chippewa Valley to voice their opinions in favor of the project. Local organizers say people can but don’t necessarily have to speak. They can have an important impact by being there when a spokesperson for the project presents testimony. Details:

Joint Finance Committee Public Hearing
Monday, March 23, 10am to 5pm
University of Wisconsin-Barron County, Fine Arts Theatre
1800 College Drive, Rice Lake, WI 54868

Locals will meet outside the hearing room at 9:45am to enter and sit together. Carpooling is available. If you intend on going, contact Scott Rogers at rogers@eauclairechamber.org

Learn more about the current state of Confluence Project funding and the extreme importance of the Joint Finance Committee.

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5 Things we learned making this year’s Eat Scene & Night Out local restaurant and bar guides

The Fire House in downtown Eau Claire.
The Fire House in downtown Eau Claire.

It's out! Nestled within the current issue of Volume One, you'll find the 2015 edition of our Eat Scene & Night Out restaurant and bar guide – two great guides that taste great together (do not eat them). Get on out there and grab one. And as usual, when you spend a lot of time updating a directory of over 300 local eateries and almost 200 local taverns, you learn a thing or two.  

1. That Sounds Familiar  

After spending weeks revising and updating our dining and drinking guide, we’ve had lots of time to ponder the sometimes unusual monikers of local joints. For instance, the Chippewa Valley is home to establishments that share the name of songs (The Grand Illusion on Water Street), films (Weekend at Bernie’s in Chippewa Falls, The Great Escape in Menomonie), and legendary works of art (Mona Lisa’s), not to mention obscure 1920s slang (Bug Eyed Betty’s).

2. The Name's the Same

Another FireHouse entirely.
Another FireHouse entirely.

Don’t confuse Firehouse Subs with The Fire House: The latter is a craft beer-lover’s paradise in downtown Eau Claire (above); the former is a purveyor of hot, gourmet submarine sandwiches on Prill Road.

3. Footlongs Aplenty

The restaurant with the most locations in our listings is Subway, with 13. That shouldn’t be a surprise: Subway is the largest restaurant chain in the U.S. (with more than 25,000 locations). No. 2 locally is Dairy Queen: There are 10 places in the Valley where you can get your Blizzard on.

4. It's Pronounced 'Ay-too-fey'

Etouffee on display.
Etouffee on display.

Etouffee is a hard-to-pronounce but easy-to-love Cajun dish served at Stella Blues. The dish’s name is derived for the French word for “suffocated” or “smothered,” a description of how the traditional crayfish (or shrimp, tofu, or chicken) mixed with onions and celery is covered in a spicy Creole sauce.

5. Mealtime Menagerie

A surprising number of restaurants and taverns in the Valley are named after animals, from the avian (Red Robin, Golden Eagle, Chick-A-Dee’s) to the antlered (Caribou Coffee, Smiling Moose) to the aquatic (Sea Horse Inn, Guppy’s, Red Lobster).

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Wednesday, Mar. 18th, 2015

Local artist Eric Lee on Wisconsin Life

In case you missed it on Wisconsin Public Television a few weeks back, check out this clip from Wisconsin Life, showing off the work and inspirations of fantastic Eau Claire artist Eric Lee. You'll learn about his unique art, which often blends oil painting with (actual) fire, as well as his artisan drum-making with Oliver Snare Drums.

We were lucky enough to have some of Lee's artwork hanging in the Volume One Gallery in January and February, so you'll get to see a few shots from that exhibition, right here in downtown Eau Claire.

Eric Lee has found a unique way to make his passion for art a part of his working life. Combining his musical talent with skills he learned making furniture, Eric began constructing specialty wooden snare drums out of reclaimed wood from the Old Globe Grain Elevator in Superior. His appreciation for Superior’s industrial landscape is also featured in the artwork he creates—out of gunpowder. – Wisconsin Life

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Monday, Mar. 16th, 2015

Eau Claire Birthday Sale Weekend: March 19-21

Eau Claire's Official Birthday is March 19 and we're turning 143!
Join us at The Local Store and Volume One Gallery for a weekend of
sales and events celebrating our great city.

All Weekend: Receive 15% OFF select "Eau Claire" apparel, art, things, and books at The Local Store.

Thursday, March 19 at 7pm: "On the Banks of the River" Reading and Signing with Rebecca Oatman - This book explores the growth of Eau Claire from its earliest days into modern times. Each chapter is written by a fictional family member living the times as a real resident would have, with or without this family’s trauma and divide.

Friday, March 20 at 7pm: Music from honeyTree - Eau Claire band honeyTree offers listeners music for the soul – blending folk, country, and jazz tones, honeyTree features Matt & Suzie K. with friends Kat & Ryan S. and Chad & Keri W. (Special Hours: Open until 9pm)

Saturday, March 21 at 3pm: Our Town Eau Claire Film (1953) Screening in the Volume One Gallery - This film, originally made in 1953 by Robert M. Carson and usually seen on Eau Claire Community Television, visits various places and businesses around a mid-20th century Eau Claire and shares some our community's great history.

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Sushi joint coming to downtown Eau Claire? Update: Yes.

Above: Sushi. (Or maki if you're going to get all technical.)
Above: Sushi. (Or maki if you're going to get all technical.)

UPDATE: Last night (3-16) the Eau Claire Plan Commission voted to approve the sushi restaurant proposal for  405 S. Barstow St.

Sushi lovers actually have a range of delicious options in the valley, but none can really be found in the ever-evolving downtown Eau Claire. But that might be changing. Monday night, the Eau Claire Plan Commission will vote on a site plan proposal that would put a new sushi restaurant in the space at 405 S. Barstow St. where the Democratic Party offices used to be (next to Greater Midwest Mercantile). The plan states the restaurant would have seating for about 100 people, a stacked sushi bar, and it even outlines space for an interior pond and fish stream.

And hey, if sushi isn't your thing, the plan commission is also voting on a proposal to plunk a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop onto Eau Claire’s west side.

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TED Talks coming to UW-Stout

The Great Hall in the Memorial Student Center will be the site of TEDxUW-Stout Friday, Oct. 23.
The Great Hall in Stout's Memorial Student Center will be the site of
TEDxUW-Stout on Friday, October 23.

TED Talks are coming to the Chippewa Valley. This October UW-Stout is set to host a TEDx event (TEDx is the regional version of the nationally known lecture series) and the event is currently taking applications for speakers until April 15. Speakers should be from within 90 miles of Menomonie or an alumni. The theme of the event is EDGE (which stands for explore, discover, grow and engage) and seven to ten applicants will be chosen to give lectures. “The Chippewa Valley and broader region are ripe with potential for sharing great and inspiring ideas with a global audience,” says Mary McManus, event coordinator. “All of these idea people are right here in our own backyard.” The first TEDxUW-Stout will be held October 23, 7pm at UW-Stout’s Memorial Student Center. Go here to learn more about the event and how to apply to be a speaker.

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Sunday, Mar. 15th, 2015

Sunday Event Picks (March 15)

Today! WHYS 96.3fm 9th Annual St. Paddy's Day Shortest Sidewalk Parade & Celebration
Today! WHYS Radio's 9th Annual St. Paddy's Day Shortest Sidewalk Parade & Celebration.
Details below.

From early in the morning and into the night – a lot of fine quality events occurring on Sunday. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Our picks are below. Check out the rest of  Sunday  here.

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Saturday, Mar. 14th, 2015

Saturday Event Picks (March 14)

Make sure you check out the spectacular ArtsWest 36, now hanging in the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.
Make sure you check out the spectacular ArtsWest 36 show, now hanging
in the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

From early in the morning and into the night – a lot of fine quality events occurring on Saturday. Wanna know what they are? Of course you do. Our picks are below. Check out the rest of Saturday  here.

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Eating Local With Your Little One

This adorable Eat Local Bib was made right here in Wisconsin by family-run company Midwest Family Life. The delightful baby bib features our beloved home state and a favorite phrase of ours: “eat local.” The fabric is 100% organic cotton with a double snap closure, and it's sure to help keep your tiny Wisconsinite tidy during meals. $15

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Friday, Mar. 13th, 2015

6 Great Chippewa Valley Hikes

What's that you say? You'd like to get outside and enjoy this amazing mid-march thaw? You'd like to suck some fresh spring air right into your lungs? Well, OK, then. Here're some great places to do that. And some of them are right in Eau Claire. (Just make sure to check if the trails are thawed and open!)

1. Eau Claire River Route
Downtown Eau Claire to East Side Hill
Start at the paved trailhead hidden across from L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library’s underground parking entrance on South Dewey Street. The trail brings you across to the north side of the river on an old railroad trestle S bridge, then across the footbridge into Boyd Park. Take an immediate left after the Boyd Park Bridge and go along a wood-chipped hiking path. Before the trail ends, you have to catch a left turnoff into the woods near the end of the clearing, onto a trail that eventually reaches Archery Park.

2. Trip Falls & Devil’s Punchbowl
From Menomonie, go west on Hwy 29, turn left after crossing the Red Cedar River, and left again on Rustic Road. Pull over when you get to a small bridge with metal guardrails; path will be on right.
The trail is not too difficult and it is short (about 1/2 mile), but requires some agility to climb up the small cliffs alongside three waterfalls. The gully widens and the path gets easier after about 500 yards. Check out the Devil’s Punchbowl, where you can take four flights of stairs down into the ravine, or walk around the rim.

3. Tower Ridge Recreation Area
From Eau Claire, go east on Hwy Q and take a right on Hwy L, and go south about a mile to the ski area parking lot
The Tower Ridge trails are wide and wind through the oak forest, around and over a number of steep hills. Several spots even have wooden benches to stop and admire. Although the trails at Tower Ridge can be a bit maze-like, just follow the signs and you’ll get back to your car.

4. Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area
10 miles out of Menomonie near Hwy E
Hoffman Hills has nearly nine miles of hiking trails, chosen based on length and difficulty (lengths vary from 1.7 to 4.4 miles). At the north end of the park is a 60-foot observation tower. It’s almost never crowded, so pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the three picnic areas.

5. Putnam Trail
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
UW-Eau Claire warns hikers to stay on the Putnam trail’s wide dirt path as everything else that’s natural is studied for scientific research. The trail starts where the Little Niagara flows into the Chippewa River, marked with a gorgeous arched stone bridge. A semi-steep climb on newly constructed steps takes you above the river for some photo ops.

6. Big Falls County Park
10 miles east of Eau Claire off Highway Q
Big Falls is the site of considerable summer activity, though pleasantly devoid of such for the next half-year. The trails, though not extensive, cut through forest on either side of county roads Q and K. Broad sand beaches and stout granite outcroppings make for good picnicking.

Bonus! Other Great Hikes to Check Out

Hickory Ridge Trail • This nine-mile trail, located in northern Chippewa County in the County Forest, begins in a parking lot off of 225th Ave. (Bob Lake Rd.).

Irvine Park • This two-mile trail is a gently rolling path for bikers and hikers. The trail is located in Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls on Bridgewater Avenue.

Lowes Creek County Park • Lowes Creek’s 11 miles of multi-use trails appeal to runners, walkers, and bikers. Located off S. Lowes Creek Rd. Parking pass required.

Old Abe Trail • Twenty miles of paved, multi-use trail from Chippewa Falls to Cornell, winding through agricultural and forest land. One of the trailheads is northeast of Chippewa Falls on 97th Ave.

Red Cedar Trail • A 15-mile trail connects Menomonie to Dunnville and shadows the steep walls of the Red Cedar Valley. Wildlife includes woodpeckers, songbirds, turkey, grouse, pheasants, fox, and deer.

Willow River State Park • From I-94, take Exit #4 and go north on Hwy 12. Then straight onto Hwy U to Hwy A. Continue north for 1.5 miles. The park entrance will be on the left. With more than 13 miles of trails, this is a natural playground for any nature lover. Trails offer plenty of riverside panoramic views and scenic overlooks of gorgeous waterfalls.

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