Wednesday, Jul. 17th, 2019

8 Weird and Wondrous Wisconsin Summer Festivals

Grill Games | Image:<a href=
Grill Games | Image: grillgames.happeningsmag.com

Wisconsin festivals are, by far, the most classic, Midwestern affairs to experience during the year. Here there be eight Wisconsin festivals to visit this summer, as well as a bonus festival listed at the bottom that you’ll just have to check out.

1. Grill Games – Kenosha

August 27 • 281 Miles from Eau Claire

If you are Bobby Flay, a dad who enjoys wearing jorts, or you just live to grill, then Grill Games in Kenosha is calling you. The grilling and barbecue competition will kick off the festival on a Saturday, but admissions aren’t quite open yet, so keep your eyes glued to their Facebook page for updates. A festival devoted to competitive grilling and barbecuing may not be heaven for everyone, though. If you find yourself ambivalent towards grilled or barbecued choice meats, the Grill Games festival spans three days, wherein as many as ten local bands perform various genres like country, rock, pop, rap, and more. In the past, they’ve also offered a giant screening of the 1970’s cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show (because why not?) where costumes and props are heavily encouraged. During the day, however, families and friends can compete in a baggo tournament and various beach games including bingo, – so there really is something for everyone.

2. Burger Fest and Balloon Rally – Seymour

"Mmmmm." – Godzilla
August 9–10 • 184 Miles from Eau Claire
Not to be confused with Kenosha’s Grill Games, Burger Fest [AND] Balloon Rally in Seymour narrows its focus on burgers and hot air balloons. They don’t have any old burgers, though. No. At Burger Fest, grill masters will grill an enormous 200-pound burger right in front of your eyes. You read that right: 200 pounds. All events start in the afternoon on Friday with kids’ activities, a car show, and live music. The hot air balloon ascension begins at 6pm on Friday and Saturday with a “balloon glow” at dusk, and another ascension begins at 6am on Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting). Participants of the festival can even purchase a $10 raffle ticket Friday night between 4pm and 8pm at the Balloon Rally for a chance to float up in a balloon on Saturday morning. Other events include a hamburger eating contest and a parade at 11am on Saturday morning with this year’s theme The Birth of the Burger – A Throwback to 1885, which is when Seymour claims their mascot, Hamburger Charlie, invented the hamburger as we know it.

3. Corn n' Tater Festival – Grand Marsh

August 18 • 131 Miles from Eau Claire

Within Grand Marsh lies the largest, one-day festival in Adams County: The Corn n’ Tater Festival. From 11am to 4pm they serve roast beef sandwiches, all-you-can-eat corn and taters (it's right in the name), and your choice of coffee or milk with every dinner ticket purchased at the grounds or before the day at one of the participating establishments. Rain or shine, you can expect to have buckets of fun with your kids at the corn eating contest, bingo, kiddie tractor pull, volleyball tournament, horseshoe tournament, and more. Arts and crafts tents with local venders fill one portion of the festival with handcrafted wares, and local bands perform live music free for everyone from 1pm to 7pm, so take advantage of this rare opportunity to enjoy a superb, quirky festival which also offers, wait for it, FREE PARKING.

4. UFO Days – Elmwood

July 25–28 • 35 Miles from Eau Claire

It seems that the paranormal and extraterrestrial have taken an interest in Elmwood, WI. Is it coincidence? Or, is there something in Elmwood that attracts the peculiar and unexplainable? Regardless, UFO Days celebrates its unique history with a four-day festival in the last weekend of July starting with a community-wide garage sale (except for Sunday), and pancake breakfasts sponsored by the Elmwood Knights of Columbia at 8am on Saturday and Sunday. Activities for adults and kids alike begin in the late morning on Friday with touch a truck, kid’s games, a petting zoo, and close with the paper plate drop, chicken poop raffle, and the first clue for the medallion hunt at the souvenir stand. The festivities continue on Saturday with the annual car show, fun run, sidewalk chalk contest, and a UFO painting class in the morning, with more games for the kiddos and competitions in the late afternoon. Parades and live music finish off the festival on Sunday, and each night offers street dancing by different artists until "very late" in the night, or very early in the morning, depending on when you wake up. Live music can be found at the food tent, and participants of the festival are encouraged to dress up like aliens or any other cool, extraterrestrial entity that you find wacky and weird to get into the spirit. We may never know what attracts such unexplainable phenomena to Elmwood, but that won’t stop us from celebrating the spooky.

5. Musky Jamboree – Boulder Junction

Image: Theresa Smith

August 9–11 • 182 Miles from Eau Claire

If you love fishing, eating fish, or just looking at those pretty scales, it’s very possible that the Musky Jamboree in Boulder Junction is the place for you. This festival is dedicated to everything fishy, but with a specific focus on musky. If you’ve ever wondered how those master fishermen catch these wriggly ones, have no fear because from 8:30am to noon, the community center hosts a How to Fish Musky Workshop for all those who are curious or find themselves frustrated with their unrefined technique. Afterwards, once you’ve got that wrist flick down, you can party all night long on the street by Coontail Corner with drinks served by American Legion Post 451. On the following days, you can enjoy the Best Fish Fry cookoff where you can taste and judge as much fish as you can eat, live music, a classic car show on Sunday, the arts and crafts fair as well as venders showcasing their creative goods, and a fun run on Saturday morning. The Musky Jamboree ends in the early afternoon on Sunday with live music and awards for those who entered into the classic car show and the kids casting contest.

6. National Mustard Day – Middleton

August 3 • 170 Miles from Eau Claire

In the beginning (aka the summer of 1991), National Mustard Day occupied only three parking stalls in front of the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, a suburb of Madison. Today, both Hubbard and Parmenter Streets downtown are blocked off for this iconic event – even Jonathan Wolenec, the Mustard Mascot from 2017, admits that he “didn’t realize how popular of an event this was before volunteering,” but after joining in some of the games, he says, “it’s amazing and I recommend anyone go to the event.” To start off the spicy soiree, the POUPON U Accordion Band plays the “Mustard Day Overture” at 9:30am, and the festivities can truly begin. Local bands like The Red Hot Horn Dogs, Speedtrap, and City Electric will help you rock out to old favorites and introduce you to new favorites in rock, pop, and soul. While the bands are rocking out, the mustard tasting tents are open for samples and offer a myriad of marvelous mustards from local mustard masters, and let’s not forget the mustard games! Kids and adults alike can test their skills in Mustard Pitch, Fishing for Mustard, Hoops for Koops’ Mustard Ring Toss, and many more exciting games and challenges; plus, all proceeds go to supporting the Sauk Trails Optimist Club as well as the non-profit National Mustard Museum.

7. Watermelon Fest – Pardeeville

September 7 • 156 Miles from Eau Claire

Pardeeville? Nah, son, you mean PARTY-ville. The first Saturday after Labor Day, PARTY-ville hosts the biggest, wildest watermelon rager this side o’ the Miss’ippi. This year marks the 52nd annual celebration of this festival which was, unsurprisingly, born from the minds of Pardeeville’s greatest thinkers after an evening of drinks at Bob Merwin’s Long Branch Saloon in an effort to put Pardeeville on the map with a festival so fun and inexpensive that people just had to stop by. All day long, various competitions are held at the festival grounds such as seed spitting, speed eating, largest watermelon, and even watermelon carving. Everyone is invited to participate in any or all contests held throughout the day, but you have to bring you’re A-game because the competition is fierce.  

8. Sovereign State Days – Winneconne

July 18–21 • 192 Miles from Eau Claire

If you’ve never heard of Winneconne (Wineh-cawny), Wisconsin, it’s about 29 miles southwest of Appleton with a population of 2,350, and it is home to a festival with, quite possibly, the most hilarious origin story I’ve ever come across. With a population of 1,273 in 1967, Winneconne was so small that it was accidentally left off the official Wisconsin highway map. Offended and frustrated, the people of Winneconne decided to “put themselves back on the map” by seceding from the state on July 21st of that year. Within that very day, the governor responded by promising to place signs on Highways 41 and 110 leading to Winneconne, and allowed the town to review the 1968 map before it was sent to print. This proved to be enough to convince Winneconne to stay a part of Wisconsin, and today it celebrates its brief day of rebellion with an annual, three-day festival. The festival kicks off this year on the eighteenth of July with bouncy houses, kids activities, a DJ, and food served at Waterfront Park. Friday has a firework celebration as well as a mini road trip at Waterfront Park later in the day, but the real festivities are during the weekend at Marble Park. After a fun run beginning at the Winneconne High School on Saturday, the arts and crafts tents open at 9am and last until 4pm, alongside a softball tournament at 8:30am – and the rest of the day is filled with activities such as coed beach volleyball, a parade on main street, kids water fight, pony rides, and so, so much roasted and grilled food by local vendors throughout. Winneconne implores you to discover the rebel within yourself and celebrate sticking it to The Man while you chow down on brats and pulled pork.  

And in case your summer wasn’t exciting enough, here’s one more festival to leave the season on a high note!

9. Wet Whistle Wine Fest – Algoma

September 13–14 • 224 Miles from Eau Claire

If you love wine and there’s something in you that has always wanted to squish grapes between your toes, the Wet Whistle Wine Fest in Algoma is where you can realize all of your wine dreams. Festivities begin on Free Admission Friday, but canned foods are greatly appreciated. On this day, live music is provided by Bazooka Joe (yes, that is this man’s actual stage name, and I’m sure you don’t even need to read on because you’ve already been persuaded), and food is served from 5pm to 9pm. Saturday includes admission for everyone above the age of 12, and all the proceeds go towards community improvement of Algona as well as the Algoma Fire and Rescue. It would be wise to dress up and blend in with, not shorts and a t-shirt, but costumes of wine bottles and nuns drinking Naughty Girl wine to really let go and dive into the fun. Live music plays throughout the day, grape stomp heats are at 12:20pm, 1:30pm, and 3pm, and YOU can participate – provided your name is chosen from the drawing. Tours and wine tasting at the local winery are open from 9am to 6pm, so if you happen to have a little too much fun, you can always contact the Algoma Chamber of Commerce for listings of great, available lodgings in the area.

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Friday, Jul. 12th, 2019

Mountain Dew Sucks at Geography, Cedes U.P. to Wisconsin

In this year’s campaign to celebrate the Fourth of July and all fifty states of the United States, the marketing directors at PepsiCo tried their heavy hand at humor to create a pun from the name of one of their soft drink lines. The campaign surrounding Mountain Dew is proudly named “DEWnited States,” and each can or bottle will display the name of a United State. The big reason for soda fans to participate in this campaign is the alluring prize of a prepaid gift card with $100 for anyone who can collect labels from all 50 states.

Well, it appears that Mountain Dew must have some kind of memory altering ingredient that the staff of PepsiCo’s marketing team has been drinking because the promotional ads for this campaign depict Michigan's U.P. as part of Wisconsin.

The states are a little bit too DEWnited.
The states are a little bit too DEWnited.

Look at that! Each state is obviously distinguished by different, wacky patterns, except the smaller states in the north east which are separated into regions, and the U.P. is clearly drawn as an extension of Wisconsin, like a big, ugly hat. In sixth grade, that would have cost me at least two points off on my geography test. Not only does this mistake appear in Mountain Dew’s map of the United States, but it also appears in a video promoting the state of Michigan, or half of it, at least. That means this mistake slid through TWO revision and approval processes and no one saw it. Or no one cared. 

PepsiCo has not made a move to take down any promotional graphics or videos containing this mistake since its release last Tuesday (July 9), but they have reached out to the unverified Twitter account, @UpperPeninsula, with a promise to make a label specifically for the misrepresented region. It’s unclear as to whether or not this new label will count as a Michigan bottle or a separate, bonus bottle in the contest, but at least the Midwest has hope for reparations.

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Thursday, Jul. 11th, 2019

New Bon Iver album i,i drops August 30; Hear two new songs “Faith” and “Jelmore”

Photo: Graham Tolbert
Photo: Graham Tolbert

The ever-evolving thing called Bon Iver is back, officially, and a brand new album drops in just a brisk seven weeks.

On August 30, the band will release their fourth album called i,i – a 13-track record that features a huge cast of players including contributions from James Blake, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Bruce Hornsby, Channy Leaneagh, Naeem, Velvet Negroni, Marta Salogni, Francis Starlite, Moses Sumney, TU Dance, and more.

The announcement comes with the release of two brand new tracks from i,i – “Faith” And “Jelmore." At once, it feels like classic Bon Iver with lush folk inflections and mysterious lyrical themes, but there’s experimental layers of spastic synths and glitchy samples more indicative of the band’s current vibe. What we’ve heard of the album so far feels like a culmination of all the music they’ve created over the last decade. There’s an intangible sense of completion there.

i,i
i,i

"The thirteen new songs on i,i complete a cycle: from the winter of For Emma, Forever Ago came the frenetic spring of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the unhinged summer of 22, A Million. Now, fall arrives early with i,i,” the press release reads. Is this the end? Is it a pivot to something different? Does it help to ask vague rhetorical questions? Probably not.

The album was recorded in part at frontman Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Fall Creek, before finishing up at Sonic Ranch, a massive studio space in West Texas which, according to Wikipedia is “the world's largest residential recording studio complex.” 

"It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete,” Vernon says. "It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work.”

And as for the meaning behind i,i, Vernon said: "The title of the record can mean whatever it means to you or me. It can mean deciphering and bolstering one's identity. It can be how important the self is and how unimportant the self is, how we're all connected."

Anyway, last time they dropped a record, the rollout included murals all over the world, listening parties, visual teasers, all kinds of wild stuff. So be on the lookout for what’s coming next.

Lyric Video for “Faith”

Lyric Video for “Jelmore”

i,i Track List

1. Yi
2. iMi
3. We
4. Holyfields,
5. Hey, Ma
6. U (Man Like)
7. Naeem
8. Jelmore
9. Faith
10. Marion
11. Salem
12. Sh'Diah
13. RABi

You can pre-order the album now, if that’s your kinda thing: https://boniver.ffm.to/icommai


Previous New Music

Hey, Ma


U (Man Like)

 

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Wednesday, Jul. 3rd, 2019

Romeo and Juliet at Lake Wissota State Park July 13

Summit Players Theatre will return for a fifth season of sharing Shakespeare with children and adults alike, but this time, they’re acting out their first tragedy: Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the Summer, Summit Players Theatre will be performing Romeo and Juliet across Wisconsin in various different State Parks as well as providing a 45-minute workshop before the play called “Playing with Shakespeare: Get Outside with Will.” The workshop is intended for children and “fun adults” to help everyone understand Shakespeare’s language and characters, as well as learn a little bit about the man himself.

➜ Coming to the Chippewa Valley on July 13 at Lake Wissota State Park (family campground picnic area) | Workshop 5:30pm | Show 7:00pm 

The play itself will be roughly an hour and a half long, and each performance will be completely free in an effort to fulfill the company’s wish to make access to Shakespeare affordable and understandable. The company founder and Executive Director, Hannah Klapperich-Mueller, assures that “this show may be different from the comedies we’ve performed before, but we’re offering audiences the same Summit Players experience they’ve come to know and love.”

Summit Players Theatre’s 2019 season is supported in part by grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board and Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. 

You can find them online at summitplayerstheatre.com or on Facebook.

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Tuesday, Jul. 2nd, 2019

12 Cool and Quirky Wisconsin Roadside Attractions to Visit this Summer

Image: James St. John | CC BY 2.0
Crystal Cave • Image: James St. John | CC BY 2.0

For your entertainment and driving convenience, I have put together a route containing some of the weirdest and quirkiest roadside attractions this great state of Wisconsin has to offer, and believe me, it was very difficult to narrow it down to just four ...

1. Crystal Cave

W965 WI-29, Spring Valley, WI 54767 | 50.6 Miles from Eau Claire

The first attraction on this list is Crystal Cave, a family-friendly cave in Spring Valley that was discovered in 1881 by two, young brothers George and William Vanasse. Since 1942, Crystal Cave has offered tours through its dark, dank depths featuring interesting and mysterious rock formations, a black-out chamber, and unexpected life thriving in the underground. Besides the thrill of exploring a rich world beneath our own, there’s a cute, little gift shop, too!

2.  Railroad Memories Museum

424 N. Front St, Spooner, WI 54801 | 81.9 Miles from Eau Claire

Spooner, and the area around it, is filled with interesting things to look at and visit such as the Railroad Memories Museum. The development of railroads in Western Wisconsin began in the late 1800’s in Hudson, WI with the North Wisconsin Railroad Co. and connected most of the Midwest. By 1882, the Division Headquarters had moved to Spooner, and with time, this town became an extremely important hub for railway transportation in the Midwest as well as an economic center by employing roughly 600 people in its heyday. Railroad Memories Museum was constructed in honor of the impact shipping and commuter trains made on the region, and the vintage trains and various other items are well worth a look.

3. Big Dick’s Buckhorn Inn

105 Walnut St, Spooner, WI 54801 | 84.5 Miles from Eau Claire

Within Spooner also lies Big Dick’s Buckhorn Inn and three weird surprises. Mixed in among the many stuffed mounts, you will notice a stuffed calf with two heads and a stuffed saber-toothed tiger! Not only that, but the men’s restroom was once visited by President John F. Kennedy! I can’t guarantee that either of those unique animals were once living, but when I called the inn to confirm whether or not it was graced by JFK, Jacob Wahleichner, an employee at Big Dick’s Buckhorn Inn, says “it’s true, he was here sometime on March 18th 1960. [He] stopped in while campaigning.” So, if you love taxidermy, or history, or you’re just in the mood for a good beer, stop into Big Dick’s Buckhorn Inn on your way to the next attraction on this list!

4. Giant Ax and Arrow

US Hwy 2, Brule, WI (on the south side by the intersection of Anderson/Wills Rd) | 150 Miles from Eau Claire

If you’re looking for some interesting and potentially hilarious photo opportunities, drive over to Brule for a giant arrow sticking out of the ground and a giant ax stuck in a log on the roadside. These two enormous statues provide great inspiration for illusions such as a tiny lumberjack and a warrior struck down in battle. Or, if you’re not interested in lying down in the roadside grass, these beauties can be seen clearly from the road, too.

5. Chainsaw Totem Pole Forest

County Hwy M, Medford, WI (on the corner of Division Drive) | 72. 8 Miles from Eau Claire

The last stop on our tour of under-appreciated, roadside attractions lands us in Medford, just over an hour outside of Eau Claire. Off of county highway M, to the right if you’ve been looping around counter clockwise, is a small forest of 21 poles with roughly 400 chainsaws sticking out of them. Gordy Lekies, the man who created this quirky piece of art, stuck these chainsaws into bare, wooden poles in all sorts of different angles and heights like branches on actual trees, so if you’re not too tired after driving all day, I would certainly suggest stopping by. Wisconsin certainly is something to behold.


Here's some more cool places!

1. Jurustic Park

Image: Jim | CC BY-SA 2.0

M222 Sugar Bush Ln Marshfield, WI 54449 | 87.7 Miles from Eau Claire

Home to several extinct, iron-made creatures that inhabited McMillan Marsh, Jurustic Park is a beast of a sculpture garden. Explore the park and view the sculptures all made from repurposed antique objects as well as a cute, little Hobbit Hole because why not? You can even take the kids and leave your tranquilizer gun at home because, unlike Jurassic Park, these creatures aren’t harmful.

2. Dr. Evermore’s Sculpture Park – Forevertron

S7703 US-12, North Freedom, WI 53951 | 143 Miles from Eau Claire

Fashioned by Dr. Evermor (alias of Tom Every, the sculptor) the Forevertron is an enormous, 320-foot-tall scrap metal sculpture that looks like a repair station for steampunk airships. 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

Town Line Rd, Washington, WI 54246 | 289 Miles from Eau Claire (includes a ferry ride)

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. If you visit, just be sure not to trip on Mjollnir stuck in the ground out back.

4. Moccasin Bar

15820 US Hwy 63, Hayward, WI 54843 | 107 Miles from Eau Claire

If you haven’t had enough of taxidermy from Big Dick’s Buckhorn Inn, Hayward’s Moccasin Bar is a treasure-trove of taxidermy. It proudly displays the world’s third largest muskie as its crowning piece, and it also includes fun scenes depicted by animals, such as a rabbit cheating at a game of poker, a raccoon as the victor of a boxing match, and a courtroom with a wolf presiding as judge.

5. The Pink Elephant

4995 Co Rd V, DeForest, WI 53532 | 163 Miles from Eau Claire

Pink and proud in front of a variety of gas stations since the early '60s, this elephant has become quite the icon. Now known as Andy’s Pink Elephant, or just “Pinkie” for short, this adorable, pink animal has stood by the roadside welcoming guests to his gas station with a big smile beneath his trunk. The gas station even sells pink elephant souvenirs to show off back home!

6. Lawn Ornament Extravaganza

4531 S Lake Dr, Cudahy, WI 53110 | 252 Miles from Eau Claire

So far, this list has consisted of locales with one large ... thing, but a Cudahy resident decided one wasn’t nearly enough. Their attraction is complete with a skull, Hamburglar, and, of course, the casual Cadillac sinking into a gravel pit.

7. Chalet of the Golden Fleece

 

618 2nd St, New Glarus, WI 53574 | 191 Miles from Eau Claire

Home to the worldly collection of Edwin Barlow, this museum displays a jeweled watch once owned by King Louis XVI, Gregorian chants on parchment dating from 1485, and plenty of Swiss related collectables, like a fancy 300-year-old Swiss table.

8. House on the Rock

5754 WI-23, Spring Green, WI 53588 | 165 Miles from Eau Claire

Last but certainly not least is one of the most famous roadside attractions in the entire Midwest, and darn near too obvious to list. The House on the Rock is so bizarre, magical, and mysterious that fantasy/horror writer Neil Gaiman included a description of this attraction in his novel “American Gods,” but found that he had to “tone down [his] description of it and leave things out…to make it believable.” Between the phantom orchestra, the carousel, and the Infinity Room, this is so much more than a “house.”

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Coming This Fall: New Bon Iver ... Album?

Well, judging by a prototypically cryptic teaser video that dropped this morning, it’s looking like there’s some more Bon Iver music on its way by the end of the year. The band, headed up by Justin Vernon and featuring an extended family of collaborators, posted the video called “Sincerity is Forever in Season,” where Michael Perry’s voice seems to hint that a new record – or something – will come this fall.

“Bon Iver, born of winter,” Perry reads. “Bloomed in spring, stutter-shimmered into summer … and now, it might be autumn … it might be.”

The video features a bunch of nature-y imagery, there’s a wolf in there and a butterfly, woods, water, sunlight, some classic Bon tunes from their previous records, and the tagline “Keep it Restaurant.”

This comes after the band released two singles last month “Hey Ma” and “Man (U Like)” and directed fans toward a cool, chaotic blog called icommai.com which is full of aesthetic images, text grabs, bizarre photography, band news, and lots more stuff.

So, something’s coming. It’s most likely an album – the band’s fourth. But with Bon Iver, you can never be too sure – which makes writing about it super fun and not awkward at all. So rather than speculate wildly, maybe we’ll just wait and see what happens next.

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Thursday, Jun. 20th, 2019

Pablo Properties Pulls Plug on Downtown Proposal

Block 7/
Block 7/"liner building" (downtown Eau Claire) concept from Pablo Properties.

Citing financial viability, Pablo Properties has pulled the plug on its plan to build an office building, a new children’s museum, and an innovative “container park” on two downtown Eau Claire lots. The Leader-Telegram reported in its Thursday edition that the news has sent the city’s Redevelopment Authority, which owns the property, back to the drawing board.

The news came at a Wednesday meeting of the city’s Redevelopment Authority, which last year sought development proposals for the two sites, commonly referred to as Block 7 (a temporary parking lot across from The Livery restaurant) and the liner site (between the new parking ramp and North Barstow Street). Pablo Properties had originally hoped to complete construction on the $32 million project by 2020. Now, the RDA will seek new proposals from developers for the properties. According to the Leader-Telegram:

Changes with clients who were lined up for office space and rising construction costs impacted the financial viability of the project, even after some changes were considered, according to (City Economic Development Manager Aaron) White.

“They made a great effort to try and revamp the project,” he said of Pablo.

White said Pablo Properties considered adding residential units, looking at the retail sector or other mixes of uses for the sites, but ultimately decided they had to step away from the project.

In a statement to the media, Julia Johnson, a partner in Pablo Properties, said that the project ended up not being financially feasible:

Even when we assumed 90% occupancy at current market rate for Class A office space in Eau Claire, the rental income didn’t cover the operating costs of the office building. Projected operating costs were high due to current construction costs, expected valuation of the building, and the non-rent generating common areas necessary for multi-tenant use. In efforts to make the project feasible we removed exciting features like a rooftop greenhouse, we stopped figuring lower rents for grocery store and we standardized building construction in many aspects. We looked at adding residential to the project as well. Other variations changed the project so substantially that our reasons for doing the project dissolved.

Pablo’s owners, staff and consultants spent countless hours and considerable dollars to progress the plans. We diligently explored our options to make the project work and did not come to this decision lightly.

A highlight this process was working with the Children’s Museum, and we hope plans for their new home progress smoothly. We will continue to look for ways to improve access to entrepreneurial opportunities, fresh food and quality employment in downtown Eau Claire. We are grateful to the RDA and the City of Eau Claire for their shared excitement in the project as proposed and hope they can find another suitable project for the sites.

 

Michael McHorney, executive director of the children’s museum, told WEAU 13 News that he is hopeful the museum will remain part of future plans for Block 7. “There is a lot of space in Block 7 so I think there is plenty of opportunity for the new developer to work with them for their relocation and expansion,” White told the TV station.

Container park concept for "liner site" from Pablo Properties.

Unveiled last fall, Pablo’s plans for Block 7 featured a two-story children’s museum with a “green” roof that would allow children to play outside, something that isn’t possible at the museum’s current site, 220 S. Barstow St. The museum would have been on the south end of the block along Galloway Street, with a public plaza just to the north. This courtyard was to include a water feature, green space, outdoor seating, and access to underground parking. The museum would have been adjacent to a 125,000-square-foot office building with first-floor retail space for the likes of a bank branch or a small grocery store.

Meanwhile, the liner site would have been transformed into “The Stacks,” which Pablo described as “a container park that offers low start-up investment opportunities with shared infrastructure to dining, service, and retail businesses.” The structures would have been repurposed shipping containers, and they would have been arranged around a “year-round patio space with seating and event space for outdoor movies in the summer and an ice rink in the winter,” Pablo Properties said.

Pablo Properties is known for a variety of other projects, including the construction of the Jamf office building, its involvement in revitalizing the Lismore Hotel, and its charitable donation to the Pablo Center at the Confluence. 

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Tuesday, Jun. 18th, 2019

UW-Eau Claire Remains Best in State for LGBTQ+ Student Support

For the second consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire has been named the best school in the state for LGBTQ+ student support by BestColleges.com and Campus Pride, two websites dedicated to informing prospective students and ranking universities in the United States.

Christopher Jorgenson, the director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, is proud to be a part of the movement toward acceptance and celebration at UWEC, but maintains that there is still more work to be done. Jorgenson said that “rankings such as these do not serve as confirmation that we’ve reached some ultimate pinnacle of LGBTQ+ advocacy; rather, they are indications that we are on the right track.”

Since January of 2017, the United States has experienced an alarming number of setbacks and roadblocks in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. Nevertheless, it is Jorgenson’s hope that, “amidst a national political landscape saturated with white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia and virulent anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, UW-Eau Claire will continue to engage in critical self-reflection, so as to realize its institutional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

More from UW-Eau Claire

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Monday, Jun. 10th, 2019

How Wisconsin "Lost" Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The story behind this one is bizarre by our standard, mundane by 19th century standard.
The story behind this one is bizarre by our standards, yet mundane by 19th century standards.

It's (kind of) common knowledge in Wisconsin that what is now Michigan's upper peninsula was once part of America's dairyland, and was somehow ceded to our eastern neighbors. But just like most common knowledge, this isn't quite as true as it seems. It's actually the result of a war which had nothing to do with Wisconsin. And not the "aggressive diplomacy" sort of war. A sheriff was stabbed, so we're going to count it as a war.

In the 18th century, cartography wasn't an exact science and statelines weren't something you could look up on Google maps. In 1787, the U.S. government enacted the Northwest Ordinance, declaring the border between the state of Ohio and Michigan Territory as "an east west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan." Congress used the Mitchell Map to define this line, and as you can tell from looking at the map above, Mitchell was a bit off in his calculations. A straight line drawn with the US government's description would have cut off almost all of Ohio's access to Lake Eerie, which would have cost Ohio a lot of trade revenue. To avoid this, Ohio changed the description of the border itself so that it ran from Lake Michigan to Maumee Bay.

The inaccurate
The inaccurate "Mitchell Map" started a border dispute, an interstate "war," and decided the fate of the UP.

So far so good, until ...

So far so good, until Michigan applied for statehood in 1833 and drew the border between itself and Ohio using an accurate map and the original description of the border. This created a tract of land called the "Toledo Strip," 5 to 8 miles wide. To try and make Michigan give the land back, Ohio governor Robert Lucas pulled some favors in congress to deny Michigan's statehood. Enraged, Michigan governor Stevens Masons enacted the "Pains and Penalties" act making it an imprisonable offense to support Ohio in the Toledo Strip, and enforced it sending 1,000 Michigan militia to the strip. In response, Lucas sent 600 Ohio militia.

No Man's Land. I think I can hear Ennio Morricone in the background.
No Man's Land. I think I can hear Ennio Morricone music in the background.

Okay so the Toledo "War" wasn't that exciting; it was mostly bloodless skirmishes, arrests, lawsuits, and saber rattling. There was one bizarre case where Michigan sheriff Joseph Wood tried to arrest Major Benjamin Stickney for voting in an Ohio election while living in the strip. Benjamin and his sons, One Stickney and Two Stickney (you can't make this up), resisted and stabbed the sheriff. He survived his wounds, and it was enough to prompt both sides to withdrawn from the No Man's Land. The political scuffle went on until 1836 when a deal was reached. Michigan would gain statehood and give up the Toledo Strip, but gain the upper peninsula from the Northwest Territory. Ohio considered it a victory.

That is until people learned about the mountains stuffed full of copper and iron ore in the upper peninsula. More wealth came out of the UP than out of California during the gold rush, and supplied 90% of America's iron and copper. Sounds like Michigan got the better end of the deal.

In the summer of 1837, as the Toledo War was ending and Michigan was gaining its statehood, the Wisconsin territory was officially formed. Wisconsin was, at one point, part of Michigan territory but broke off before it ever had its own name on the upper peninsula. Thus, we never had it. But, if Ohio had just kept to itself and accepted the loss of the Toledo Strip, Michigan would have likely left the upper peninsula for Wisconsin.

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Friday, Jun. 7th, 2019

Pablo Center Unleashes Second Season Lineup (STOMP, Postmodern Jukebox, TU Dance and Bon Iver, Bill Engvall, Wynton Marsalis, & More)

International percussion sensation STOMP comes to the RCU Theatre in March 2020.
International percussion sensation STOMP comes to the RCU Theater in March 2020.

In August of 2018, the Pablo Center at the Confluence announced their first annual season lineup, chock-full of world-class spectacles and local legends.   It’s been a wild ride from Cloud Cult to Farewell Angelina, with stops in between including Chippewa Valley’s Torch Sisters’ La Caverne, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild’s Fun Home, and so much more.

After a year of firsts, the state-of-the-art venue is stepping up its game with the announcement of its second season, featuring live music, ballet, theater, circus, spoken word, fine art, magic, and more.  Twenty shows made the inaugural line up, but the 2019-2020 season boasts more than 30 headline shows, a set-list series, and gallery shows that will amaze and inspire.

A Few Highlights ...

Postmodern Jukebox • TU Dance and Bon Iver • STOMP • Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis • Béla Fleck • Bill Engvall • Lyle Lovett • Trey Anastasio • John Hiatt • Chris Kroeze

The Main Shows

Come Through: TU Dance and Bon Iver comes to the RCU Theatre in November.
Come Through: TU Dance and Bon Iver • November 2019

Cirque Mechanics 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels • September 26, 2019 • RCU Theatre • A marvelous performance exploring the history and lore of circus through dance, acrobatics, and more.  42FT has American industrial ingenuity at its heart.

Ballet Hispanico • October 5, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Latin dance, contemporary movement, and ballet unite in an all-Latina program that celebrates the work of several Latina choreographers.

Ethel with Robert Mirabal • October 16, 2019 • RCU Theatre • This string quartet, which was nominated for a Native American Music Award, presents a program inspired by Water as the embodiment of Spirit, and its essential role in Life on Earth, along with Native American musician Robert Mirabel.

Postmodern Jukebox • October 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Contemporary classics take on a whole new identity when married with big-band, vintage country, doo-wop, and many other musical styles of the past.  In glamourous costume, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox will have audiences of all ages jammin’ along.

Todd Green: World Strings • October 30, 2019 • Listen to and learn about dozens of string, flute, and percussion instruments as Todd Green plays unusual rhythms and scales from around the world.  Audiences will learn about the culture and history of the music, enjoying the similarities and differences between Western and Eastern tunes and tools.

Spektral Quartet • November 5, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • This Grammy-nominated string quartet ties classic works and traditional songs and movements with more contemporary pieces with seamless flair.

Postmodern Jukebox • October 2019
Postmodern Jukebox • October 2019

Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) • November 9, 2019 • RCU Theatre • All 37 of William Shakespeare’s immortal tragedies and comedies blaze across the floor in record time.  From shrew-taming to midsummer night dreaming, this troupe weaves their way from play to play.

Cuentos: Tales from the Latino World • November 9, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Storyteller, playwright, and musician David Gonzalez brings tales from Spanish-speaking cultures of the world to life with memorable characters and positive messages for children. 

Me La Amargates Tú • November 14, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • This group shares the carefully preserved language and music of Sephardic Jewish communities, incorporating the use of medieval and renaissance instruments for a world-touring show.

Come Through: TU Dance and Bon Iver • November 22-24, 2019 • RCU Theatre • St. Paul dance troupe TU Dance, known for their exploration of social change through the choreography of Uri Sands, teams up with the Chippewa Valley’s ascendant musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver for an evening-length commission. 

Sandeep Das and Mike Block • November 25, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Cello and tabla (a pair of Indian drums) merge when Sandep Das and Mike Block, who originally met in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, bring their out-of-the-ordinary performance to the Jamf Theatre.

Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker • November 27, 2019 • RCU Theatre • A family favorite throughout generations, the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker is an enchanting escapade of holiday magic, sure to put audiences in good spirits.

A Charlie Brown Christmas • December 1, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Another holiday classic full of heartwarming scenes and beloved holiday characters, A Charlie Brown Christmas features the music of Vince Guaraldi and the discovery of the true meaning of Christmas.

Bill Engvall • January 2020
Bill Engvall • January 2020

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holiday Tour • December 11, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Timeless holiday carols and tunes take on a new timbre as performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  A holiday program full of big-band attitude, directed by Marcus Printup.

Leanne Brown • December 13, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • A one-of-a-kind author event by Leanne Brown, author of NY Times bestselling cookbook “Good and Cheap.”  This work is known for $4/day food stamps recipes with illustrations that are to-die-for.

Bill Engvall • January 18, 2020 • RCU Theatre • Observational satire at its finest and most relatable from recording artist, TV personality, and comedian Bill Engvall.

Alfredo Rodriguez Trio • January 23, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • This Cuban jazz musician exemplifies improvisation and adaptation with his eclectic, storytelling compositions.  Rodríguez is a globally recognized and Grammy-nominated musician.

Orlando Consort: Food, Wine, and Song • February 6, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Dinner and a show – at the same time.  The Orlando Consort pairs good music with good wine and a menu inspired by medieval feasts for an experience out of history.

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn • February 7, 2020 • RCU Theatre • “The family that picks together, sticks together.” Banjo musicians Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn pick their way to the Pablo for their Echo in the Valley national tour, pushing the instrument to its limits.

Call of the Wild • February 28, 2020• Jamf Theatre • Jack London’s classic tale of Buck, a sled dog in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush, comes to life through live storytelling and projected imagery. 

Cirque Mechanics 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels • September 2019
Cirque Mechanics 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels • September 2019

 Johnny Gandelsman - Violin • February 15, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Founding member of Brooklyn Rider and member of the Silkroad Ensemble, Grammy-award winning violinist and producer Johnny Gandelsman presents Bach’s complete cello suites on the violin.

Home Within: Kinan Azmeh and Kevork Mourad • February 19, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh and visual artist Kevork Mourad team up to reflect on the Syrian revolution and its aftermath through music and imagery.

Iny Asian Dance Theatre • February 29, 2020 • RCU Theatre • Iny Asian Dance Theatre is the first Hmong Dance studio ever developed in the United States.  They’ve performed in Thailand, Laos, China, Korea, and all over the united states, bringing traditional and contemporary performance together to amaze audiences.

Alicia Olatuja Quintet • March 18, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • From classical to jazz and R&B, Olatuja has been described by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone.”  She celebrates noted woman composers through her arrangements and performance.

Clara Osowski – Mezzo Soprano • March 31, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • An in-demand soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe, mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski celebrates springs with an evening of Schubert and other favorites.

Ben Seidman • April 2020
Ben Seidman • April 2020

Beep • April 5, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Beep, an unusual robot, crashes into a peaceful village where everything has its place, uprooting the routine of Mort’s village.  Gentle storytelling and puppetry tells the story of what happens when someone new comes to town.  There will be two showings, including a sensory-friendly performance.

Sybarite5 • April 8, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • This “string quartet with a bass” brings rockstar attitude to everything from Bowie to Radiohead, giving a new look to chamber music.

Ben Seidman • April 10, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Seidman, a UW-Eau Claire graduate, has made waves with his role on the Netflix Original: Brainchild, and wowed audiences of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.  After two Travel Channel specials, three seasons of Las Vegas performance, and designing illusions for Criss Angel, it’s time for a night at the Jamf Theatre.

Turtle Island with Cyrus Chestnut • April 23, 2020 • RCU Theatre • Infused with hints of gospel music’s global tones, the combination of Turtle Island Quartet with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut is remarkable, exciting, and uplifting.

Kaia String Quartet • May 13, 2020 • Jamf Theatre • Chicago-based KAIA captures Latin American culture through strings.  Featuring works by Astor Piazolla, Jose Bragato, and Claudio Santoro, the flavor of Latin American music will fill the Jamf Theatre.

STOMP • March 20-21, 2020 • RCU Theatre • The international percussion sensation with decades of rave reviews on the books uses brooms, poles, garbage cans, lighters, and more to bring on the rhythm.

'Set List' Shows

Chris Kroeze • December 2019
Chris Kroeze • December 2019

Pablo’s lineup of contemporary music concerts ranges from local treasures to nationally known visitors – and homecomers.  New acts will be added throughout the season.

Mike Perry and the Long Beds • September 27, 2019 • Jamf Theatre
Lyle Lovett • October 15, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Trey Anastasio • October 21, 2019 • RCU Theatre
John Hiatt • October 4, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Postmodern Jukebox • October 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Pit Wagon / Laska / Ben Shaw • November 1, 2019 • Jamf Theatre
Them Coulee Boys • November 15, 2019 • Jamf Theatre
Chris Kroeze: Home For the Holiday • December 20-21, 2019 • RCU Theatre
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn • February 7, 2020 • RCU Theatre
Jerrika Mighelle and Friends • February 21, 2020 • Jamf Theatre

Constituent Groups & Shows

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra
Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra

Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra
The CVJO Presents The Music Of Harry Connick, Jr. • October 18, 2019
Ignore The Forecast! With Andrew Neesley & Mel Flannery • December 7, 2019
CVJO’s 10th Anniversary Bash With Wayne Bergeron • February 22, 2020
The CVJO With Special Guest Roxy Coss • May 1, 2020

Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra
Mendelssohn’s ‘Reformation’ Symphony • October 12, 2019
A Classical Christmas • December 14, 2019
The Young People’s Concert • February 1, 2020
Brahms in Spring • March 14, 2020
Happy Birthday, Beethoven! 250th Birthday Celebration • May 8, 2020

Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild
The Who’s Tommy • October 3-6, 2019
Legally Blonde the Musical • May 7-10, 2020
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical • June 25-28, 2020

Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra
An Afternoon with Bloch, Fauré and McCartney • September 29, 2019
Saturday Evening • November 16, 2019
Family and Friends • January 25, 2020
Lux: The Dawn from on High with the Master Singers • March 21, 2020
American Dreams • May 16, 2020

Volume One's True North • December 2019
Volume One's True North • December 2019

Eau Claire Children’s Theatre
Elf: The Musical • November 15-17, 2019
Disney’s Frozen Jr. • February 14-16, 2020
Mary Poppins • March 6-8, 2020
The Rainbow Fish • April 3-4, 2020
The Hunchback of Notre Dame • June 11-14, 2020
Newsies • July 23-26, 2020

Eau Claire Male Chorus
Associated Male Choruses of America (AMCofA) Big Sing, “LET THERE BE MUSIC” • April 17-18, 2020

Master Singers
America, My Home 2019: Carmina Pax • October 13, 2019

UW-Eau Claire
Faculty Recitals • September 6, 2019 / October 4, 2019 / November 1, 2019 / February 7, 2020 / March 6, 2020 / May 1, 2020
Wind Symphony/Symphony Band Concert • October 17, 2019
Company • October 18-20, 23-27, 2019
BluGold Marching Band Concert • November 7, 2019
Choral Showcase • November 10, 2019
Holiday Concert • December 8, 2019
James and the Giant Peach • March 6-8, 12-15, 2020
University Symphony Orchestra Concert • April 16, 2020
Eau Claire Jazz Fest • April 24-25, 2020
Confluence Dance Project • May 1- 2, 2020

Volume One
True North • December 19-21
2019 Great Big Hullabaloo • May 30, 2020

Tickets

Tickets for the 2019-2020 season will be available for purchase to the public at www.pablocenter.org, or at the box office starting on Monday, July 29 at 10am.  Pablo Center members will be offered pre-sales on the following dates:

Director Circle – July 8, 2019
Designer Circle – July 10, 2019
Artist Circle – July 12, 2019
Partner – July 15, 2019
Advocate – July 18, 2019
Supporter – July 22, 2019

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