Thursday, Jun. 18th, 2015

The House on the Rock Is Fake!

Pretty sure those trees are real.
Pretty sure those trees are real.

Wisconsin's House on the Rock has been deemed everything from Wisconsin's most bizarre building to the greatest roadside attraction in all of America. A trip through its halls is a mind-bending dive into a surrealist cartoon. International fantasy/horror author Neil Gaiman, who described the place in his novel American Gods, said, "It's a monument to kitsch and wonder and madness and uncertainty...I had to tone down my description of it and leave things out in the book in order to make it believable." So it should come as no surprise that it's also almost entirely fake.

In a manner of speaking.

My childhood just died.
If you could hear them playing, you'd hear my childhood dying.

In this video from Atlas Obscura (the purveyors of all things roadside and attractiony) Dylan Thuras makes light of the unlikeliness of the building's legendary origin story and its insane, anachronistic, and mostly replica "collections." For me, the worst was learning that the robot orchestra doesn't actually play its instruments (they're aided by a speaker system).

But as Thuras says, none of this ruins the experience of the House on the Rock. It actually might make the experience a little better. Because I can assure you – the fantastically bizarre (if sometimes unsettling) feelings you feel there are entirely real.

"The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American tourist public is in rural Wisconsin ... and it's wonderful."
– Dylan Thuras, Atlas Obscura

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Wednesday, Jun. 17th, 2015

An Ambush of French Elegance: Le Diner en Blanc 2015

Photos provided by Anne-Marie Bittner.
Photos provided by Anne-Marie Bittner.

As the sun set over Phoenix Park on June 12, a surprise French invasion of elegance and fine cuisine was staged. For the third year, Le Diner en Blanc (“Dinner in White”) has been staged in Eau Claire by local organizer Anne-Marie Bittner. The event began in Paris 28 years ago when a Frenchman returning home told his friends to meet in a park and wear white to identify each other – and dinners have been held worldwide for over two decades. The location of the “chic picnic” is kept secret from even the attendees — 44 in 2015 and growing every year — until evening. Attendees to the event dressed all in white (black pants allowed for men) and brought their own tables, napkins, silverware, glasses, and plates. Le Diner en Blanc is invite-only, so find a friend who’s attended before and ask if you can be invited to next year’s event on June 17, 2016.

For more information contact call Anne-Marie Bittner at 715-833-1633.


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Tuesday, Jun. 16th, 2015

Sorry, $209 per Pound Wisconsin Cheddar Is All Sold Out

I'm hooked on good cheese.
I'm hooked on good cheese.

A reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, a block of cheese – heralded as a "milestone in cheesemaking" – made its debut last month at $209 a pound. Sound a bit cheesy? Tony and Julie Hook of the Hook Cheese Company in Mineral Point, Wis. aged the 450 pound block of cheddar for 20 years, smashing their previous accomplishment of a 15-year cheddar. Most of the big cheese was already spoken for, but the remaining 20 pounds has went on sale May 29 to the public, selling out soon after. $40,0000 of the profits made from the cheese is being donated to the Dairy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Hook Cheese Co. has been crafting award winning cheddar, gorgonzola, colby and tons of other curds for over 45 years. Tony Hook isn't planning to make any more 20-year cheese, but he might set aside some of his 10 and 12 year blocks. "Who knows?" he said. "Maybe if you aged it 100 years it would be a solid rock and you'd have to lick it to see what it tasted like."

Alas, that 20-year-old block is gone, so if you've got a discerning palette and a couple hundred dollars burning a hole in your wallet, look elsewhere.

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Friday, Jun. 12th, 2015

Behold: The Local Store's New 'Local Legends' Tee

You! It was all you! You voted in The Local Store's most recent Local Legends poll to create limited-edition, vintage-style tees featuring the logos of famous former area businesses – the ones we all know and love. Our past winners include Kerm's, Woo's Pagoda, and London Square. Well, the latest results are in, and we're releasing the new tee right away with another new release to follow this fall – so stay tuned!

And that winner is ... Timm's Dairy! This beloved dairy and ice cream shop resided in Eau Claire and yielded delicious ice cream and fond memories to its patrons for years before closing its doors. These brand new Timm's Dairy tees are availableNOW at The Local Store. To pick up your own Local Legends tee, stop into the shop anytime during store hours, order one online here (to have one shipped right to your door), or find them down at the Volume One tent during the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at Phoenix Park – Thursdays in June, July, and August.

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Wednesday, Jun. 10th, 2015

Eau Claire City Council Fills Open Seat

The Eau Claire City Council has a brand-new member: Tim Tewalt was chosen by his council peers-to-be Tuesday to fill a vacancy representing District 1 on the city’s north side. Tewalt, who works as program director and instructor of industrial mechanics at Chippewa Valley Technical College, will hold the seat previously occupied by Councilman David Duax, who died in April. Tewalt was appointed to the council on a 7-3 vote, and he will serve through next April’s election. He and another applicant, Heather DeLuka, had made presentations about their qualifications to the council Monday evening. “I am applying for the position because I believe in giving back to the city that has provided such a wonderful place to raise my family and support the great community we live in,” he wrote in a June 3 letter to the council. Tewalt, who has lived on the north side since 1991, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UW-Stout.

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Tuesday, Jun. 9th, 2015

This Beautiful Map Shows Wisconsin in 1932

Thanks to the David Rumsey Map Collection, this beautiful old-timey map of Wisconsin is available for your viewing pleasure. It was designed by Berta and Elma Hader in 1932 as part of a set aiming to map out the iconic parts of every state in the country.

The map depicts several things in the state that have since disappeared; the auto industry of southern Wisconsin, OshKosh luggage, and Strand Skis. But it also shows several things that have stayed the same, like the prolific and timeless dairy industries, the iron mines of northern Wisconsin, and Devil's Lake as Wisconsin's premiere summer swimmin' hole.

Phil Edwards at put together an anotated, interactive version of the map with some fantastic rundowns of our state's depicted history. Check it out!

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Monday, Jun. 8th, 2015

State Theatre Announces 2015–16 Lineup

A show at the State Theatre from 2013.
A show at the State Theatre from 2013.

The State Theater has announced its lineup for the 2015–2016 season. The lineup features a wide array interests including acrobatics, magic, music, and comedy shows. Some highlights include Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, Stayin’ Alive - One Night of the BeeJees, popular Irish folk band Gaelic Storm, legendary improvisational comedy troupe Second City, and a live show of Michael Feldman’s “Whad’ya Know?”

Check out a full list of the shows coming this season at Eau Claire’s State Theater.

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Friday, Jun. 5th, 2015

Free Admission to Wisconsin State Parks (June 6–7)

Red Cedar State Trail
Red Cedar State Trail

Calling all nature lovers. June 6-7 has been declared Free Fun Weekend across the state. Wisconsin residents will be able to enjoy all of the state parks and trails with free admission. The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel’s Wisconsin Trails has put together a list of 15 places to enjoy Wisconsin’s natural wonders this weekend. Some highlights include the Elroy-Sparta state trail, Wisconsin’s first abandoned rail line-turned-bike trail; the Open Door Bird Sanctuary at Whitefish Dune State Park, and the Red Cedar State Trail’s sandstone formations just outside Menomonie. Grab some hiking shoes and hit the trail!

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Wisconsin's Missed Connection Hotspot Will Not Surprise You

Ah, Craigslist. A mixed bag of the Internet if there ever was one. One of my favorite college past-times was putting the missed connection part of the site on our living room projector and scrolling through it with my roommates (we didn't have a lot of money). For those not in the know, "missed connections" is a part of Craigslist where users can post about a love-at-first-sight sort of scenario in hopes their dreamboat will see it and message them back. If you've ever wondered where the most common missed connections happen in each state, then we've got you covered. Also, you've got some very peculiar wonderings.

BAR: Told you it wouldn't surprise you. <em>See a bigger version.</em>
BAR: Told you it wouldn't surprise you. See a bigger version.

Dorothy Gambrell released this map in Psychology Today, cataloging each state by the locations in which most of its missed connections occur. Unsurprisingly, Wisconsin's happen mostly in bars. The median age of a user posting about something taking place in a bar is 30, which sets the benchmark for the average posting Wisconsinite.

Some other interesting takeaways from the map include the finding that Washington has a higher proportion of female posters while Idaho has the highest of males. Most missed connections in the country seem to happen in Wal-Marts, but the most bizarre one is Georgia, where most happen in "the car." Is there one car in Georgia in which people tend to meet? Is mass, anonymous carpooling common in Georgia? Someone help me out here.

If you want some amazing examples of how funny Craigslist missed connections can be, look no further (reader discretion advised).

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Wednesday, Jun. 3rd, 2015

Eaux Claires Festival Releases Day-to-Day Lineup

This week, the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival announced which days – July 17 or 18 – the musical acts and art performances from its impressive lineup will fall. As far as time of day, there’s no exact schedule just yet, but $75 single-day general admission passes go on sale at 10am Friday June 5 at

The enhanced two-day Chippewa passes sold out a while ago, but there are a small number of $135 regular two-day passes (that don’t include free beer) left – if you can’t bring yourself to pick just one day of deliciously weird art experimentation and genre-bending musical acts.

Camping passes are also sold out, but dorm lodging at UW-Eau Claire (for the full Justin Vernon experience) is still available for $10 a night.

The single-day lineup, in alphabetical order, is as follows:

Friday, July 17

Allan Kingdom
Blind Boys Of Alabama
Boys Noize
Field Report
Found Footage Festival
Francis and The Lights
Grandma Sparrow
Hiss Golden Messenger
Jon Mueller's INITIATION
Marijuana Deathsquads
Mina Tindle
NO BS! Brass Band
Phox (film premiere)
Ragnar Kjartansson’s
Sam Amidon
The Staves
Sturgill Simpson
The Lone Bellow
The National
The Tallest Man On Earth

Saturday, July 18

Aero Flynn
Bon Iver
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires
Chris Rosenau
Colin Stetson
Elliot Moss
Found Footage Festival
Grandma Sparrow
Haley Bonar
Indigo Girls
   performing "Swamp Ophelia"
Melt Banana
NO BS! Brass Band
Phil Cook
Ragnar Kjartansson’s
Retribution Gospel Choir
Sufjan Stevens
Sylvan Esso

 Music | Art Performance


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