Thursday, May. 7th, 2015

VOTE NOW: You Decide Our Next Local Legends Tee

Legendary Local Legends (tees).
Legendary Local Legends (Tees)

Last winter, Volume One and The Local Store launched a new series of limited-edition, vintage-style tees featuring the logos of famous former local businesses we all knew and loved. We called the series Local Legends, and YOU picked the first three tees we made - London Square, Kerm's, and Woo's Pagoda!

Well get ready, because we're launching another Local Legends tee this summer and once again, YOU get to choose the design! This new collection of contenders includes the top vote-getters that didn't make last year's cut, plus additional suggestions from members of our community. Basically, these ideas came from you, and now you get to pick the winner.

Go to our Local Legends page and vote for your THREE favorite options (and/or suggest additional t-shirt ideas). Voting enters you in a drawing for a $50 Local Store Gift Card! Include your email and we’ll let you know when the new tee is ready, just in case you want one. As is the case with all our tees, they'll be printed right here in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.


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In Nosh News: Partners Pull Plug on Taste of the Valley

Taste of the Valley tasters tasting the Valley.
Taste of the Valley tasters tasting the Valley.

Put away your bibs and jumbo packs of wet-wipes: The Taste of the Valley – the Phoenix Park-based food-a-palooza – is no more. Over the years, the annual event has featured dozens of local food vendors – from mom-and-pop eateries to franchises – dishing out everything from fall-off-the-bone pork ribs to toasted ravioli for thousands eager eaters. The Eau Claire Press Co., publisher of the Leader-Telegram, announced May 6 that the June event will not be held any more. Taste of the Valley began in 2007 and has been sponsored by the Eau Claire Press Co. since 2010. Originally a United Way fundraiser, for the last two years it has benefited the Community Table, which provided many volunteers to staff the event. However, the Community Table recently decided not to take part, which contributed to the decision to end the event, the Leader-Telegram reported. 

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Wednesday, May. 6th, 2015

5 Curious Roadside Attractions Full of Wisconsin Character

Summer is soon upon us and that means one thing for me: road trip season. It's time to get out there and see some of our state's local sights – and character. What do a Tesla-inspired sculpture, taxidermy dioramas, trolls, a viking church and a 55-ton boulder have to do with each other? They're all part of Wisconsin's family of interesting (read: odd) roadside attractions. 

1. Rock in the House - Fountain City

I think there's someone at the door, dear.
I think there's someone at the door, dear.

One fateful day, a landslide sent a 55-ton boulder crashing down the hillside into a home in Fountain City. Instead of removing the boulder and repairing the house, the new owner simply built around the boulder, named it as an homage to a different legendary Wisconsin attraction, and opened it for visitors. When life gives you boulders … make boulderade?

2. Forevertron - North Freedom

Definitely a repair station for steampunk airships.
Definitely a repair station for steampunk airships.

Fashioned by Dr. Evermor (alias of Tom Every, the sculptor) the Forevertron is an enormous 320 foot tall scrap metal sculpture. It looks like an enormous generator that Tesla might have built. Surrounded by a collection of gun turrets, huge insectoid robots and fanciful, science-fiction Victorian architecture, the Forevertron has inspired many scrap metal artists around the country.

3. Viking Church - Washington Island

Mjollnir's stuck in the earth around back.
Thor's hammer, Mjollnir, is stuck in the earth around back.

Known as Stave Churches, these multi-gabled, pagan-architecture inspired churches were common in Scandinavia during the medieval ages. The Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington Island built this authentic replica in 1993 and it’s currently used for weddings, ceremonies and other gatherings. When I visited it a few years ago I could have sworn that I could hear the crashing hooves of the Valkyrie.

4. Moccasin Bar - Hayward 

Please tell me the wolf got his law degree from Clawumbia. I'll be here all week.
Please tell me the wolf got his law degree from Clawumbia. I'll be here all week.

Hayward’s Moccasin Bar is a trove of taxidermy. It proudly displays the world’s third largest muskie as its crowning piece and also includes scenes of animals such as a rabbit cheating at a game of poker, a raccoon depicted as the victor of a boxing match, and a courtroom with a wolf presiding as judge.

5. Mount Horeb Trollway - Mount Horeb

Someone get this little guy his coffee already.
Someone get this little guy his coffee already.

Thanks to Disney’s Frozen, you probably know that trolls are a popular part of Scandanavian folklore. What you might not know is that Mount Horeb, Wisconsin claims the title of “troll capital of the world.” Not a light claim, but given that the entire town has embraced the idea and imported 12 to 16 ft tall carved wooden troll statues from Norway to plant all over town, I’m going to go ahead and give it to them. I definitely have the power to do that.

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Monday, May. 4th, 2015

How Much Money Does Eau Claire Tourism Generate?

Country JAM
Country JAM

Tourism is an increasingly big business in the Chippewa Valley. How big? Well, according to figures just released by the state Department of Tourism, visitors pumped $215 million directly into the Eau Claire County economy last year. That’s a whole lot of motel reservations, campsite stays, restaurant meals, and water park passes. It’s also a nearly 10 percent increase over what tourists spent in the county in 2013. (By contrast, statewide tourist spending grew about 5 percent last year.)

And the $215 million figure doesn’t tell the whole story: In 2014, tourists generated total business sales of $346 million in Eau Claire County and accounted for an estimated 4,055 jobs, according to figures compiled for the Tourism Department by research firm Tourism Economics. That makes Eau Claire the 13th biggest tourism county in the state – and we don’t even have a giant fiberglass fish, a house on a rock, or a Tommy Bartlett extravaganza.

In the Chippewa Valley as a whole, tourist spending generated more than $137 million in wages and salaries and the equivalent of over 6,200 jobs, said Visit Eau Claire, the region’s tourism-promotion agency.

Overall, Wisconsin’s tourism economy grew to $18.5 billion last year, a 25 percent increase in just four years. Tourists also generated $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue, or the equivalent of $620 per Wisconsin household. (Think about that figure the next time you’re tempted to curse an Illinois driver speeding northward on the Interstate.)

“We are pleased to report that the overall strength and growth of tourism in Wisconsin continues to have positive impact on the economy,” Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett said in a press release. “What’s more is research shows that tourism advertising goes beyond just promoting vacations, it also boosts the state’s overall image. Our marketing campaigns and the vacations that result influence how people think about Wisconsin as a great place to live, find a job, open a business, buy a home, or go to college.” Having a Kentucky-beating college basketball team doesn’t hurt, either.

Tourism also had a notable economic impact in other counties in the region: Direct visitor spending was $77.6 million last year in Chippewa County (basically flat from the prior year), while it grew 9 percent to $46.4 million in Dunn County. These numbers all demonstrate that – to revive an old tourism slogan – plenty of people are still escaping to Wisconsin.

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Tuesday, Apr. 28th, 2015

Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival offers free two-day pass to fest volunteers

This summer’s Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival is now accepting applications for volunteers – during and book-ending the two-day fest – from Tuesday July 14 through Sunday July 19 at the Country Jam grounds just southwest of Eau Claire.

Volunteers will have to work two shifts of six hours in the six-day span (and yeah, you gotta be available during the actual festival), but the major reward is free two-day passes to enjoy the sights and sounds of Eaux Claires free of charge when you’re not working. Lodging is not provided.

Eaux Claires 
Music & Arts Festival
Volunteer Requirements

• You must be 18 years or older to apply.
• You must be available to work July 17 through 19, 2015.
• You must pay the $10, non-refundable application fee to be considered.
• If selected, you will have to put down a deposit for a 2 day festival pass ($135) via PayPal, after you have completed your two six-hour shifts, we will refund the deposit within 7 days of the festival’s end.
• You must be willing to work in the designated department you are assigned to.

One cool thing is that if you’re selected, you can try to wiggle your six-hour shifts around so you don’t miss Melt-Banana! Or any of your favorite acts, for that matter! (But you should seriously be careful not to miss Melt-Banana.)

Have the $10 application fee in hand, fill out the questionnaire at, and you could very well be on your way to enjoying – and contributing to – Eaux Claires.

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TV: Wisconsin Discovers Eau Claire

Last weekend (April 25), Discover Wisconsin – a statewide tourism TV show – ran its episode on Eau Claire (which you may have heard about here). You can watch the episode (which they've broken into four parts), check out some photos, and quite possible learn a few things you didn't know before – on Discover Wisconsin's website.

You'll (of course) notice tons of local stuff like tubing on the Chippewa River, kubb, local concerts, and area attractions. See if you can spot your friends and relatives. Heck, even a little Decadent Cabaret got in there. Check it out! 

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Monday, Apr. 27th, 2015

100 Things to Do in Eau Claire This Summer

It won’t be long before summer is upon us in Wisconsin. I’ve been busy making itineraries and drawing up road trip maps to fill the three months with as much of Eau Claire character. Fortunately, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire published a fantastic list of 100 things to do in Eau Claire this summer. I’ve added close to 20 more things to do just since reading the list. Five of my favorite activities from last summer even made it to the list: UWEC's summer cinema series (above), Chalkfest, the Eau Claire Farmer’s Market, the Artist’s Market, and various local wine tastings. If you’re looking for a great place to start looking for ideas of what to do this summer, then head on over to the list and check it out for yourself.

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Friday, Apr. 24th, 2015

WATCH: Irie Sol does F. Scott Fitzgerald

Irie Sol's next album is about Bernice, the eponymous character from Eau Claire found in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." So to write the album they steeped themselves in Fitzgerald and 1920s jazz and history of St. Paul and Eau Claire, drawing on a Volume One feature article by Andy Hanson and Caleb Gerdes.

The "Gatsby and the Jazz Age" lecture/performance shown here happened on April 7 (2015) – presented by UW-Eau Claire's Joel Pace and Irie Sol, it was hosted by Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books, The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, and Fitzgerald in St. Paul. The video is by Patrick Pelham, who was with the band while recording their new album at April Base studios.

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Thursday, Apr. 23rd, 2015

So proud! UW students make world's largest Rice Krispie treat

Project Freshman 15,000 started out with one clear mission: to make the world’s largest rice krispie treat. Their goal was for the enormous edible to weigh in at 15,000 pounds; a clever reference to the notorious “Freshman 15.” Led by sophomore Joe Tarnowski, students melted butter and marshmallow over boiling water in six groups and then baked blocks of rice krispies in five baking teams. The massive treat didn’t quite meet the goal but it did weigh in at 11,327 lb. which handily beats the previous Guinness World Record holder by a tasty 1,013 pounds.

Someone get me a machete, a poncho, and a glass of milk. I'm going in. Image: WSJ
Someone get me a machete, a poncho, and a glass of milk. I'm going in. Image: WSJ

All of this deliciousness wasn’t done purely for an undergraduate sugar rush. Blocks of the treat were sold to support the United Way of Dane County and Camp Kasem, a foundation that supports children with parents diagnosed with cancer. 

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Wednesday, Apr. 22nd, 2015

Wisconsin's favorite word to use when dating online

In a recent effort to better understand what makes us tick when we’re online, Mashable and teamed up to create the map below, showing what words people from each state use most in their online dating profiles. The map looks for high frequency words in each state that are also relatively infrequent in other states.

Wisconsin and Minnesota share “cabin” as our most frequently used word. Because what's more attractive than a trip up to the ol' cabin? Wisconsin should double date with Michigan so we can add a bonfire to the romantical magic.

I’m curious as to how Mississippians are “lookin,” exactly; what happens on a “porch” in Tennessee; and just what Texas’s “oil” has to do with dating. Also, what's up with Missouri's lovers loving the zoo? 

Grab a closer look at Mashable

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