Wednesday, Aug. 2nd, 2017

Viva Bon Mexico

Hmm. Today, Bon Iver released detailed plans for "Days Have No Numbers" –  a four-day "concert vacation” at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riveria Maya, Mexico on January 21-25, 2018. Limited to just 2,500 attendees, the event will be sort of like a mini-Eaux Claires at a tropical resort on the dreamy shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Pretty much the whole musical lineup is Eaux alumni with acts like Sylvan Esso, POLIÇA, Francis and the Lights, Hiss Golden Messenger, Melt-Banana, Spank Rock, Aero Flynn, Phil Cook, Dizzy Fae, Velvet Negroni, Amy Warehouse, Hrrrbek and more special guests coming along for the trip. Bon Iver itself will play three separate shows, and there will be three stages in different spaces of the resort.

So the idea is you stay at the resort, explore the Mayan Riviera, maybe go snorkeling or zip-lining during the day, followed by daily yoga sessions, workshops, interactive games, maybe you'd hit the spa or spend time by the beach. Then on top of all that, you get to be dazzled by a super eclectic slate of artists, music festival style. Tickets – which run $1,500 to $3,500ish – go on sale on August 10. So, there are a few numbers associated with these particular days.

To learn more and buy tickets, head to

Comments 11

Thursday, Jul. 27th, 2017

5 Little Known Eau Claire Ordinances ... from the Late 1800s

Perhaps some of these entries from an old booklet of Eau Claire city ordinances at the Chippewa Valley Museum should still be enforced. 


No one likes a dirty mouth, but back in 1874 the City of Eau Claire had some pretty strict rules against foul language. According to a booklet of ordinances published that year, you could be fined up to $50 for speaking “any bawdy, lewd, or filthy words.” Furthermore, your neighbors could perform a citizen’s arrest if you cursed: According to the ordinance, “any householder in Eau Claire can apprehend lawfully somebody who violates” that rule.

2. SLOW DOWN (1874)

Back in the 19th century, the pace of life was slower – literally. Under the 1874 ordinances, it was “unlawful to ride or drive a horse or a team faster than a walk on a bridge longer than 20 feet.” In addition, the speed limit for horses on “streets, alleys, lanes, and highways” was a comparatively swift 7 mph.


In recent years, the Eau Claire City Council has debated whether to allow residents to raise chickens. When Eau Claire was incorporated, rules about animals were more relaxed, but they still did exist. “Horses, mules, cattle, goats, or swine” weren’t allowed to run at large; if found, they could be impounded. (Imagine that impound lot!) Interestingly, this rule didn’t apply to cattle owners as long as Bessie was tied up after 10pm.


In the interests of promoting public health, it was unlawful to “kill or slaughter any beeves, sheep, hogs, or other animals within the limits of the city.” Yes, you read that right: The slaughtering of “beeves” was banned. And no, “beeves” doesn’t refer to Wally Cleaver’s little brother or Butt-Head’s buddy: it’s just an archaic plural of the word “beef” – in other words, cattle.


And while we’re on the subject of slaughtering livestock, an edition of the city ordinances published in 1882 prohibited “putrid carcasses or other unwholesome or nauseous substances” from being deposited within the city or its waters. If enforced, this ordinance would have prevented those “charming” tales from Eau Claire old-timers about kids playing in the river with inflated pig bladders!

Add a Comment »

Friday, Jul. 14th, 2017

URGENT: The City of Altoona Wants Your Art

Pedestals in Altoona's River Prairie Park, soon to hold local art.
Pedestals in Altoona's River Prairie Park, soon to hold local art.

Altoona’s River Prairie Development has been progressing for several years, soon to make its debut this fall. Located along the banks of the Eau Claire River, the park area of the development  uses the site’s natural beauty as a primary draw for visitors and residents, offering something for everyone – including original works of art.

The City of Altoona is currently accepting proposals from qualified artists interested in creating or providing sculptures to bring character to River Prairie Park. The sculptures will be mounted upon existing pedestals and will be highly visible within the park space to both pedestrian and automobile traffic. These proposed sculptures will be a primary focal point within the park.

The City hopes to install four sculptures that reflect the values upon which the park was envisioned and constructed. Those values include:

• Promoting environmental quality and highlighting the sites natural attributes
• Creating a space that is welcoming to all individuals and that promotes diversity, inclusion and engagement
• Promoting activities that reflect the concepts of Hygge (Danish) and Koselig (Norwegian)
• Creating a unique identity for River Prairie and the City of Altoona
• Providing a space of fun and wonderment for children and adults alike
• Creating a convivial atmosphere through programming diverse events
• Delivering a space that promotes healthy activities and choices

To be eligible for this opportunity, professional artists must reside in either Wisconsin or Minnesota, or with a direct tie to the Chippewa Valley in some other manner. Applicants must design an interactive, dynamic/kinetic, engaging, and adjustable piece of art, providing one or all four sculptures.

Lots more info ...

Deadline: Friday, July 28, 2pm

Proposals must be received by Friday, July 28 at 2pm. Artists can mail or drop off six hard copies at 1303 Lynn Avenue (Altoona)  or email a PDF file of their proposal to In addition, they submit the following information:

1. Current resume(s) of artist(s) working on project with contact information (limit one page per artist).

2. Letter of Interest addressing how artist would approach the project (limit two pages).

3. List of a minimum of three (3) professional references per artist including name, address, phone number, and email address of each reference. Please include any references you may have related to work completed on any government of municipal art project. (limit one page per artist).

4. Ten (10) JPG images of previous works that most closely reflect the pieces being proposed. Images should be numbered and titled with the artist’s last name (i.e.01-Jones) and also include a brief description of each work, title of artwork, location, medium, size, and, if a commissioned project, the budget. If the piece was purchased outright, rather than commissioned, please include the sales price. (limit 10 pages)

5. A narrative and drawing illustrating the proposed sculpture(s) concept and identifying medium, dimensions, colors, style of work, method of installation, and artistic intent. (limit two pages per proposed sculpture).

6. Itemized budget including all costs such as artist’s fee, design, fabrication, and installation costs to include transportation and insurance during installation. Artist will be paid a lump sum for proposed work. (limit two pages)

7. The awarded artist budget will be all inclusive of the project costs, including artist’s fees and expenses, taxes, materials, fabrication and installation. The City will provide for site preparation and the physical ground foundation (concrete slab) for the art piece. Transportation, travel, liability insurance and installation are the responsibility of the artist.

8. Detailed installation plan. (limit one page)

All questions or requests should be directed to Mike Golat, City Administrator, at (715) 839-6092. Address and email information is listed below:

City of Altoona
Mike Golat
1303 Lynn Avenue
Altoona, WI 54720

River Prairie Park - Art Project Timeline

Call for Artist/RFP Release (7/12/17)
Site walk-through (7/20/17 – 2pm – River Prairie Center)
Deadline for Proposals (7/28/17 – 2pm)
Proposal Review & Consideration (7/31/17 – 8/4/17)
Select & Contract Artist (week of 8/7/17—council action on 8/7)
Fabrication of Art Pieces (8/8/17 – 9/22/17)
Artist Progress Report (9/14/17)
Art Piece(s) Completed & Installed (9/23/17)
Unveiling of Art Piece(s)/Press Event (9/30/17)


Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Jul. 12th, 2017

1909: The Year the Hippodrome Came to Eau Claire

From the Eau Claire Leader on July 18, 1909 ...

Eau Claire, Friday, July 23

Gollmar Bros.
Greatest of American Shows

New and superb, brimful and overflowing with the most sensational, ingenious and high class arenic and hippodrome features acts ever exhibited.

A colossal combination of circus, museum, hippodrome and $1,000,000 menagerie.

200 artists, 200 blooded horses, 30 clowns, 100 feature acts, $20,000 blood sweating behemoth, monster herd of performing elephants. Scores of surprising sights and scenes in salutation. Grand gold glittering and glorious free street parade 10am. 2 performances daily, 1 and 7pm.

With the recent demise of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, (after 147 years) I thought it would be fun to travel back the grand heyday of American circuses. This advertised circus followed the time-tested marketing plan of parading the entire cast of circus performers, animals, and elaborately decorated circus cars down the main street in order to give prospective patrons a taste of the weirdness to be enjoyed at the actual circus.

During this time period, a circus visiting town was wildly popular, thousands of people from all the surrounding small towns would flock to Eau Claire to catch a glimpse of sensational spectacle. For many, the circus would be the only chance they would ever have to see exotic animals in the flesh.  

Often times an advance team would visit the area a couple weeks before the circus and plaster these amazing flyers all over town---ensuring that by the time the actual circus arrived, children and their families were falling over each over to spend their hard-earned money at the circus.

I am saddened that the days of seeing a circus car overflowing with a gigantic hippopotamus splashing about along main street are long gone – luckily, we still have the treasure of Circus World in Baraboo, and no matter where you come out on the whole circus debate, I think we can all agree that seeing 30 over-friendly clowns parading around Eau Claire would be … something.

Add a Comment »

Monday, Jul. 10th, 2017

LISTEN: Wisconsin Public Radio on "Eau Claire’s Cultural Renaissance"

A lot has been written throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the nation in recent weeks about the new rise of Eau Claire in the cultural landscape of the Midwest. Playing a role in this is music, entrepreneurship, arts, development, millennials, and more. Last week Wisconsin Public Radio took an hour to explore what's happening, inviting Volume One publisher Nick Meyer to discuss and take calls from around the state. Nick again mentions his "Feedback Loop" theory and dives into what it all means for Eau Claire and what it can mean for other communities as well.

Take some time and listen in:

Add a Comment »

Sunday, Jul. 2nd, 2017

Is Eau Claire the new "it" city for artsy millennials? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks so...

Today – on the front page of its Sunday edition – the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel joined a growing list of publications to profile Eau Claire. But while most other magazines focus on Eau Claire as a travel destination or a weekend getaway, this piece, titled "Renaissance: Eau Claire new "it" city for artsy millennials," focuses on downtown's explosion in development over the past few decades, and especially the past five years. It (of course) mentions the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival and Justin Vernon, and how younger people from around the country may be attracted to living here, but it also goes pretty in-depth on the Confluence Project, tracing its history, its key players, and the opposition mounted against it during 2014's referenda votes.

Overall, it's a pretty positive look at the city. Writers Erin Richards and Karen Herzog say …

Development experts in other Wisconsin cities are taking notes on Eau Claire, even as they acknowledge its unique blessings: a longstanding arts community, ample natural resources, a welcoming political atmosphere, some famous and successful young natives, and a committed university partner.

Read the full piece.

Comments 18

Thursday, Jun. 29th, 2017

UWEC Grad Will Hit Ground Running as Confluence Arts Center Director

Kevin Miller
Confluence Arts Center Director Kevin Miller

Within sight and earshot of the bustling Confluence Arts Center construction site next to the Chippewa River in downtown Eau Claire, Kevin Miller was announced as the forthcoming facility’s executive director Thursday afternoon.

Miller, a UW-Eau Claire theater alumnus who is now executive director of the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac, will officially take the helm of the Confluence Arts Center on July 17.

While the $45 million shared university-community arts center won’t open until September 2018, Miller told a crowd gathered for a press conference on the Haymarket Landing’s rooftop terrace that he is eager to get to work.

 “As we can see behind us, there’s nothing more exciting than a construction project, and what that can do for the arts,” he said. “I think the big story … is what you have done to knit up all segments of the community so this is a community project.” He praised local public and private sector leaders for collaborating on an initiative that he predicted will boost the region both artistically and economically.

“We know what the arts can do for our lives from a cultural standpoint, just to have stuff to do,” Miller said. “But listen to that noise behind us: That’s the sound of progress, that’s the sound of a place that people want to live. That’s the sound of jobs.” Miller compared Fond du Lac to Eau Claire: Both are traditionally blue-collar industrial towns that have increasingly seen the value of investing in the arts, particularly as a way to lure and retain young, skilled workers who are looking for culturally vibrant places to live in addition to steady paychecks.

Vicki Hoehn, president of the board for the Confluence Council, the entity that will operate the arts center, said Miller’s experience in Fond du Lac helped him rise to the top among the 90 applicants for the executive director position. Miller raised more than $12 million for the Thelma Sadoff Center, including $8 million to renovate the former Masonic temple into a multi-function art center.

“Kevin Miller brings a demonstrated track record for strong relationship building and fundraising, along with local roots and statewide connections, to the position,” Hoehn said. “He has a strong working knowledge of the industry and a vision for artistic excellence, job creation, and educational opportunities.”

Miller studied theater at UW-Eau Claire in the 1980s (his on-stage roles included Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire) before receiving a master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee in 1992. Later, he worked as a professional actor, then founded a theater company in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Since 2007, Miller has been executive director of the Thelma Sadoff Center. He has served on the Wisconsin Arts Board since 2013 and currently is chairman of the board. His wife, Ann, is a native of Chippewa Falls, and she and the couple’s youngest son have already relocated to the Chippewa Valley.

Miller promised that, once it opens, the Confluence Arts Center will provide “outstanding arts experiences” including “more theater, more visual arts, more dance, (and) more music in all its forms.” The arts center will strive to promote local arts as well as to attract national and international touring performances, he said.

“September 2018 is not that far away,” Miller said. “ We want to make this project successful for our city, our region, our state, but there’s a national piece to this, too.” Considering the success of Bon Iver, the area’s numerous music festivals, and the Confluence Project itself, he said, “People are talking about Eau Claire.”

Now that an executive director is in place, Hoehn – the Confluence Council board president – said that the next priorities will be filling several other top jobs. A director of production and operations, who will technically be a contracted employee through UWEC, will be hired, as will a director of programming and education. The Confluence will also need help in promotion and marketing, some of which will be provided by the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, the organization that will merge with the Confluence Council once the new arts center opens.

Miller said his initial priorities include getting to know the project’s partners better, raising funds, building a program calendar, and hiring staff. “We’re a team of one right now,” he quipped.

“It’s so exciting to be here in Eau Claire, because it’s not a plan on the chalkboard anymore, right?” he said as construction crane towered above and sparks streamed down from steel girders. “This isn’t a PowerPoint. You are living this.” 

Add a Comment »

Tuesday, Jun. 27th, 2017

Small Wisco Beverage Makers Form Coalition

Brewing Projekt brew.
Brewing Projekt brew.

A coalition of craft beverage producers has formed to promote the interests of Wisconsin’s independent brewers, winemakers, and distillers. One leader of the newly formed Wisconsin Craft Beverage Coalition is Will Glass, of the Brewing Projekt in Eau Claire. Glass is also president of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, which formed the coalition with the Wisconsin Winery Association and the Wisconsin Distillers Guild. “The Coalition will work to promote legislation that will allow Wisconsin’s craft beverage industry to grow and thrive and will raise awareness of all legislative and special interest proposals that would harm our small businesses,” a press release said. According to The Capital Times, “The alliance comes in response to an effort by the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association and the Wisconsin Wine and Spirits Institute to tighten the state’s three-tiered system of manufacturing, distributing and selling alcoholic beverages by keeping small-scale producers from selling beverages for drinking on-site – a move that would stunt a growing industry.” A proposal to do just that has been circulating in the state Capital in recent weeks.

Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Jun. 21st, 2017

Up to 12 'Born Learning Trails' to Be Installed Throughout Chippewa Valley

Irvine Park's 'Born Learning Trail.
Irvine Park's 'Born Learning Trail."

Ten area communities in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties have approved the installation of Born Learning Trails in their area parks. These are in addition to the Born Learning Trail installed last year at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls. One more trail is pending approval.

Born Learning Trails are research-based outdoor activity paths for parents and caregivers to walk through with their young children to encourage them to talk, listen, read, think, imagine and create. These trails support United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley’s Successful Children’s Network initiative which brings programs and resources together to ensure all children enter school ready to succeed.

A trail was installed on June 8 at Brunet Falls Park in Cornell, sponsored by Northwestern Bank, and on June 13 in Fairchild City Park in Fairchild, sponsored by United Way Emerging Leaders Society.  Additional trails are approved for Augusta, Altoona, Bloomer, Cadott, Eau Claire, Lake Hallie, New Auburn and Stanley. United Way is awaiting final approval for a trail in Fall Creek.

Volunteers from Cornell Area Betterment Association, Northwestern Bank, United Way Emerging Leaders Society, Hi-Crush and Bush Beans have been recruited for the first three installs, with additional help provided by City of Cornell workers. Volunteers for upcoming installations are still welcome and can contact United Way by email at or by calling 715-834-5043.

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are planned for each trail location, with public welcome to attend. The ceremonies scheduled so far include: Liberty Reading Park in Augusta on Monday, June 19 at 4:00 P.M.; Fairchild City Park on June 21 at noon; and Brunet Falls Park in Cornell on June 22 at 3:30 P.M.

Businesses or organizations interested in sponsoring a Born Learning Trail can contact Kathy Cooper, Successful Children’s Network volunteer coordinator, at 715-834-5043.

United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley has supported the human services of Chippewa and Eau Claire counties for over 50 years. It brings community members and resources together to ensure that children in the Chippewa Valley will enter school ready to succeed, Chippewa Valley residents will achieve self-sufficiency, and the mental health of Chippewa Valley residents will improve.

Add a Comment »