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Eaux Claires Details Emerge for 2020 Fest in Downtown Eau Claire

pending city approval – not to mention coronavirus – it could happen July 10-11

Eric Christenson, photos by Brid O’Donovan

A performance from last November's Eaux Claires Hiver festival in downtown Eau Claire.
A performance from last November's Eaux Claires Hiver festival in downtown Eau Claire.

Some exciting details surrounding the new iteration of the ever-evolving Eaux Claires are coming into focus, now that the organizers are seeking city approval for hosting the festival in downtown Eau Claire.

The Leader-Telegram reported that the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival is slated to appear before the Eau Claire City Council on Tuesday for a resolution authorizing Downtown Eau Claire Inc. to conduct the festival in downtown Eau Claire July 10 and 11.

After four summers of festivals out at Foster Farms just outside of the city, Eaux Claires took a breather in 2019 to refocus, with the intent of subverting the typical music festival structure by bringing their energy to the streets of downtown Eau Claire. 

Then came Eaux Claires HIVER, a cool four-day stopgap festival hosted at the Pablo Center and other venues around town at the tail-end of 2019. HIVER, with its collaborative and experimental performances, marked a first step toward what a downtown version of this festival could look and feel like. Now, here in 2020, it’s looking like the newly rejiggered Eaux Claires could very well be on its way this summer.

So without further ado, here’s everything we know about the plans so far! (Please keep in mind, this is by no means a done deal)

  • It’s happening July 10 and 11
  • The festival is expecting up to 6,000 people in attendance.
  • The hope is to have two outdoor stages constructed in the lot beside the Pablo Center (which is currently a parking lot), with a food/drink area, merch sales, and restrooms.
  • Simultaneously, other performances will happen at nearby venues in downtown, including the Pablo Center, The Fire House, ECDC, Revival Records, and The Plus.
  • Curfew for street closures will happen at 11pm both nights, but they’re hoping to have separately-ticketed late-night events ’til 2am in The Lismore ballroom.
  • On Sunday July 12, there’s plans for a free parade open to the public and an exclusive ticketed long table dinner for ~300 people in Phoenix Park.

Now, before we get too hyped on this, there’s still some logistical stuff to get through (not to mention the looming threat of COVID-19 throwing wrenches in music festivals and large gatherings far and wide).

With a green light from the Eau Claire City Council, not to mention the virus-related unknowns surrounding everything in the live music world, summer Eaux Claires could be a reality once again, with a fresh look, new energy, and a world of potential.

Obviously, more details will emerge as spring rolls on. So at the risk of getting everybody’s hopes up, go ahead and start dreaming of what could be.

Here's a message from the Eaux Claires festival organizers: