Wednesday, Oct. 28th, 2015

Look at What UWEC Has Planned for Its Huge New Arena/Rec Center

An artist’s rendering shows a preliminary design concept for the  Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex.
An artist’s rendering shows a preliminary design concept for the Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex to be built on land donated between the Chippewa River and Menomonie Street in Eau Claire. Closer look.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Confluence Project isn’t the only major collaborative, multiuse facility on the drawing board in Eau Claire. UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire YMCA are working together on an even bigger project, and now you can feast your eyes on drawings of a major event facility and recreation center to be built between Menomonie Street and the Chippewa River. On Wednesday, preliminary renderings were unveiled of the John H. and Carolyn O. Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex, which is slated for the former County Materials and Student Transit-Eau Claire site not far from Carson Park and the Hobbs Ice Arena.

The images, while far from final, provide an idea of what the huge complex will look like, both from Menomonie Street and the river. The plan includes a 130,000-square-foot major event center, which will seat 4,500 to 5,000 people (with a standing-room-only capacity of 6,000); a wellness, aquatics, and rec facility that would be shared by UWEC and the YMCA, with Mayo Clinic Health System partnering with them for programming; as well as plenty of parking and adjacent land suitable for private, complementary development.

Kimera Way, executive director of the Blugold Real Estate Foundation and the UWEC Foundation, said the design concepts were created to help with the fundraising process, “and also to help the community to see what our vision is, how we want to embrace the river.”

For decades, a major event center to replace UWEC’s outdated Zorn Arena has been on the Chippewa Valley’s wish list. The idea moved closer to reality back in August 2014, when John and Carolyn Sonnentag, both UWEC alums, and their business, County Materials, announced a donation of $10 million of money and property to the university. Since then, the Blugold Real Estate Foundation has taken ownership of the site and hired program management firm Brailsford and Dunlavey to conduct a market analysis.

View from menomonie Street. Image: UW-Eau Claire and Ayres & Associates.
The Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex renderings, as seen from Menomonie Street. Image: Ayres & Associates.
Closer look.

“To determine the size of the event center, it was important to first understand the market potential,” Way said. “Brailsford and Dunlavey interviewed stakeholders and potential users of the event center to determine what types and how many events it might host, then used benchmarking data from other venues and markets to recommend capacity ranges for the center.” Way acknowledges that some in the community have called for a facility that could seat 10,000 people or more, but she said the university has to focus on building an arena with a size the community can  sustain.

According to a press release, “The event center concept calls for a highly versatile design that would accommodate multiple types of events and activities, including serving as a home for UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s basketball games, men’s hockey games, basketball and other athletics tournaments, large indoor concerts and other entertainment or sports events.”

Way said the Sonnentag Center could become a hub for university, community, and family activity. “Imagine any weekend scenario … where because of the versatility of what we’re envisioning, you could have a Marlins swim meet, an ice hockey tournament, and an AAU basketball tournament all at the same site,” Way said.

During the coming year, demolition and preparation work will begin on the site, which for decades has been used for concrete manufacturing and school bus storage. County Materials is transitioning its operations to another site, although its retail office will remain on Menomonie Street for the foreseeable future, Way said.

While there have been no additional financial pledges toward the project, the UWEC Foundation and the YMCA have had preliminary discussions with potential donors, Way said. “Please know that there’s a tremendous amount of work that’s gone on in the last year and a few months, and a lot of work ahead of us,” she said, adding the university hoped to begin building within five years.

The Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex as seen by birds.
The Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex as seen by birds. Closer look.

Comments 14

Monday, Oct. 26th, 2015

5 Monuments to Old Abe, the State’s Most Famous Eagle

Memorial High School's Old Abe
Memorial High School's leggy Old Abe

1. Wilson Park

The Chippewa Valley’s most famous Civil War veteran never fired a shot, but she – yes, SHE – is remembered with memorials across the Chippewa Valley (and beyond). In downtown Eau Claire’s Wilson Park, you’ll see a statue of Old Abe and a marker telling the war eagle’s tale. It was Richard F. Wilson, the park’s namesake, who encouraged volunteer troops from Eau Claire to adopt the young eagle as a mascot.

2. Steamboat Launch

A few blocks from Wilson Park, just down the riverbank from where Gray Street dead ends at Graham Avenue, a marker indicates the location of a 19th-century steamboat landing. Here, on Sept. 6, 1861, the company of volunteers and their mascot departed Eau Claire for Madison.

3. Camp Randall

True, this monument isn’t in the Chippewa Valley, but if you’re ever in the vicinity of UW-Madison’s football stadium, check out the impressive stone arch topped by a statue of Old Abe. It was at the original Camp Randall, a training ground for Union troops, that Old Abe received her name – in honor of Abraham Lincoln, naturally.

4. Memorial High School

The 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry – the so-called “Eagle Regiment” – saw action throughout the South for the next three years. Old Abe rallied troops in dozens of battles, including the Siege of Vicksburg. Now Old Abe oversees more peaceful pursuits as Memorial’s mascot, embodied in a rooftop statue.

5. Jim Falls

You’ll find another big statue of Old Abe in Jim Falls, a small community about 30 miles northeast of Eau Claire along the Chippewa River. It was near here in the spring of 1861 that Chief Sky of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribe sold Old Abe – then just a recently captured eaglet– to the wife of farmer Daniel McCann in exchange for a bushel of corn. A few months later, it was McCann who sold Old Abe to the soldiers in Eau Claire.

Add a Comment »

Thursday, Oct. 22nd, 2015

Now Hiring: Resources & Listings Editor

Volume One is seeking a Resources & Listings Editor for our talented editorial team. This key position is part of the core of what we do: providing robust amounts of accurate and detailed information regarding the things to do and see throughout the Chippewa Valley. Learn more!

Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Oct. 21st, 2015

Eaux Claires Announces 2016 Festival Dates

Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival – July, 2015
Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival (July, 2015)

Hot off being named one of the “Top 10 Music Festivals in North America” by Consequence of Sound, the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival will officially be back in 2016 on August 12 and 13 at the festival grounds just outside Eau Claire. The first round of pre-sale tickets goes on sale Thursday, Oct. 22 at 10am CST at

In July of this year – its inaugural year – the new festival pumped some serious artistic energy into the soil of the Chippewa Valley, fueled by an eclectic lineup of acclaimed musicians and visual artists, and over 20,000 fans from here and beyond. The vibe, the culture, and the experimental nature of Eaux Claires resonated all around the country. But the two-day, Justin Vernon-curated, capital-‘E’ event struck a chord with locals too, taking the top spot in a few categories of our annual Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll including Best Music Festival and Best Annual Event.

Along with the pre-sale announcement, the Eaux Claires folks have released a nostalgic five-minute video, which plunges into the hazy, warm highlights from that hot weekend in July – watch it below. As the seasons change around us and everything gets darker and colder by the day, the video is a nice way to wistfully hearken back to the thick dog days of Chippewa Valley summer 2015.

“This is not a memory, this is a beginning,” festival narrator Michael Perry says in the promotional video. “Return to the river, where we will sing again.”

Aside from a switch to the second weekend in August (which will no longer clash with Rock Fest over in Cadott), there aren’t many details on 2016 just yet. However, festival organizers are already addressing some of 2015’s less-than-ideal situations, in particular, the food. A common criticism in the post-fest haze was that they ran out of food – like, right away both days. But in 2016, if you get an enhanced “Chippewa” ticket, you’ll be guaranteed admission to the festival, unlimited beer and wine, and a two-day complimentary culinary experience (two specially-prepared meals per day).

No word on a lineup for next year’s festival yet – that won’t come until early next year – but if you trust the Eaux Claires curators enough, chances are they’ll come through for you. Again.

For those so inclined, a limited number of two-day general admission “Eau Claire” tickets ($125) and two-day enhanced “Chippewa” tickets ($250) will be available at on Thursday Oct. 22, 2015 starting at 10am CST. Additionally, pre-sale ticket buyers are guaranteed the rights to purchase camping passes when they go on sale early next year.

Summer Comes...
Eaux Claires 2016 Announcement Video

Check out the full Eaux Claires press release ...


TOMORROW, OCTOBER 22, 2015 at 10AM CST  

October 21, 2015 – Eau Claire, WI – Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival is grateful to announce it will return next August 12-13, 2016 to where it all began: the beautiful, 40-acre Foster Farms, just outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The hit two-day festival curated by Eau Claire native and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner of The National drew a crowd of over 20,000 festivalgoers per day in its inaugural year and was recently named as one of the “Top 10 Music Festivals in North America” by Consequence of Sound. Eaux Claires will make a limited number of tickets available for pre-sale tomorrow, October 22, 2015 online at at 10:00am CST.

Surprising and delighting fans with its eclectic line-up, unexpected artist collaborations, visual installations, and emphasis on audience interaction, Eaux Claires is dedicated to enhancing the festival experience in 2016.  In particular, enhancements in camping, food and beverage experiences are all underway, and more will be announced in 2016.  Also, with the introduction of improved culinary options, 2016 Chippewa pass holders will receive a two-day complimentary culinary experience including a specially prepared lunch and dinner each day, along with beer and wine, served in a relaxing environment just steps away from the main stage. All pre-sale purchasers will receive guaranteed rights to purchase camping when campsites go on sale in early 2016.

The Eaux Claires line-up will be shared in early 2016. 2015’s festival counted Bon Iver, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Indigo Girls, Lizzo, Sylvan Esso, Charles Bradley, Sturgill Simpson, S. Carey, Doomtree, Boys Noize, and the debut performance of Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Forever Love” among its 45 acts.  

Eaux Claires Presale Tickets: A limited number of Two-Day General Admission “Eau Claire” Passes and Two-Day Enhanced “Chippewa” Passes will become available at tomorrow, October 22, 2015 at 10AM CST.   Two-Day GA “Eau Claire” Presale tickets are $125; Two-Day Enhanced “Chippewa” Presale tickets are $250 (includes a complimentary culinary experience, along with beer and wine, on festival grounds during show hours). 

For more details and up to date information about Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, please visit and follow the festival on social media: Twitter, @EauxClairesWi, Instagram @EauxClairesWi, and Facebook: /EauxClairesWi

Comments 1

Tuesday, Oct. 20th, 2015
Monday, Oct. 19th, 2015

Northwoods Brewpub in Eau Claire Closing, Moving to Osseo

Just got word that longtime local pub, eatery, and micro brewery Northwoods is closing and moving to Osseo. From the press release ...

We’re moving!

We have seized an opportunity to move to a much larger facility in Osseo, WI that will be able to accommodate our growth as a company!

As of November 1st, 2015 at 4:00 PM we will no longer be open to the public. This decision is a difficult one because Eau Claire has been great to us, and we are so thankful for everyone who has visited us from our opening in November of 1997 until now.

We’re changing our focus to brewing a wider variety of quality craft beers, as well as trying our hand at distilling. We will have a small, simple food menu served in a large, open bar environment; with a bar rail, tables, and couches for you to enjoy.

We’d like to invite everyone to come out and say goodbye, as well as to visit out new location after the New Year. Osseo is only minutes away!

Look for all of our updates on Facebook and Twitter!


– Northwoods Brewing

We've also heard that a new restaurant is already set to purchase the building. 

Comments 3

WATCH: Leinenkugel's Featured on Taproom Travelers

Behind the scenes of Taproom Travelers, which takes you behind the scenes of regional taprooms.
Behind the scenes of Taproom Travelers, which takes you behind the scenes of regional taprooms.

As I hope you know, Wisconsin is the birthplace to some excellent breweries and the Chippewa Valley is home to a terrific handful of them.

Because we have so many great breweries in our backyard, there was bound to be someone who would go around to all of them and make videos about it. With that in mind, we have the Taproom Travelers, a group of people dedicated to, as their website says, “sharing the good word of thriving Midwest craft beer.”

The Taproom Travelers go around the Midwest and make webisodes touring local breweries and learning about their history. The first brewery was our very own Lazy Monk back in 2014. Since then they’ve grown a bit and for episode ten they’re back in the Chippewa Valley.

Episode ten showcases Leinenkugel's brewery, the fermented star of Chippewa Falls. You can watch the episode below and learn a little more about the history and day to day of one of our favorite local breweries, and then go enjoy one because it’s going to make you thirsty.

Add a Comment »

Wednesday, Oct. 14th, 2015

Apple may owe UW-Madison $862M in patent lawsuit

Apple Inc. may owe UW-Madison a whopping $862 million. Check out this article from Yahoo Finance ...

Apple loses patent lawsuit to University of Wisconsin, faces hefty damages

Apple Inc could be facing up to $862 million in damages after a U.S. jury on Tuesday found the iPhone maker used technology owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's licensing arm without permission in chips found in many of its most popular devices.

The jury in Madison, Wisconsin also said the patent, which improves processor efficiency, was valid. The trial will now move on to determine how much Apple owes in damages.

Representatives for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

WARF sued Apple in January 2014 alleging infringement of its 1998 patent for improving chip efficiency.

The jury was considering whether Apple's A7, A8 and A8X processors, found in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several versions of the iPad, violate the patent.

Read more!

Comments 1

Anonymous Donor Will Give $1M to Confluence If the Rest of Us Kick in 500 Grand

If you’ve been procrastinating about opening your wallet for the Confluence Project, it’s time to fill out a pledge form. Why now? If you do it before the end of the year, you can triple your money.

The offer may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. On Wednesday, the project’s fundraising committee announced that an anonymous donor is offering $1 million toward the proposed downtown Eau Claire performing arts center in the form of a challenge grant: The donor will pledge the money if the fundraising campaign can raise another $500,000 by Dec. 31.

The offer has prompted fundraisers to launch the “It’s Time” campaign to bring in the $500,000. The new effort will kick off Friday, Oct. 16, at the Uncorked Autumn Wine Tasting Gala sponsored by Gordy’s Market. 

Fundraisers announced this week that they’d topped the $10 million mark in private fundraising, thanks to three big gifts: Peter and Randi Scobie will contribute $100,000; BMO Harris has pledged $50,000; and Jon and Maureen Homstad have committed $50,000. The total philanthropic goal is $13.5 million of the arts center’s projected $40 million cost.

“We are continuing to see strong momentum with philanthropy for the Confluence Arts Center,” said fundraising campaign co-chairman Tom Barland in a news release. “The $15 million grant from the State of Wisconsin, included in the state’s budget, and Eau Claire County’s recent re-affirmation of its $3.5 million investment in the project has convinced people that the Confluence Arts Center is going to be a reality.  They are eager to help assure the capital campaign’s success.”

The Eau Claire Community Foundation is the main recipient of community gifts, while the UW-Eau Claire Foundation also continues to accept gifts for the arts center.

To learn more about the “It’s Time” Campaign, visit or To find out how to make a donation, contact Sue Bornick at the Eau Claire Community Foundation (715-552-3801 or or Kimera Way at the UW-Eau Claire Foundation (715-836-5180 or

Comments 1

Tuesday, Oct. 13th, 2015

The "Most Beautiful" Spot in Wisconsin?

Apostle Islands
Apostle Islands

Wisconsin is a gorgeous state, I do believe we can all agree on that. But like the judges of a stately beauty contest, you may wonder exactly which part of Wisconsin is the prettiest.  Well, the website Thrillist takes a stab at it with a list of the most beautiful spots in each state.

According to Thrillist, the most beautiful spot in Wisconsin is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in La Pointe. Known for its cold water diving, stunning underwater rock formations, and even sunken ships, it’s not surprising that Thrillist would consider this to be the most attractive place in Wisconsin. The best part about this area? It’s purty all year round. You can visit the islands any time of year, and they’ll look stunning whether you’re under water or above.

While our state’s majesty is undebatedly timeless, can the same can’t be said for our neighbor states? The list pegs Michigan's best spot as the 123 acres of trails and gardens found at the Nichols Arboretum, and Illinois’ claim to fame is the view from the top of the Willis Tower. I guess that works. In Minnesota, they liked the  Boundary Waters.

What do YOU think? Is Apostle Islands our most beautiful spot or what?

Comments 1