Thursday, Dec. 5th, 2019

VOTE NOW: Best of the Valley 2020

VOTE NOW! Voting is now open in our 2020 Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll! We've got lots of categories across 9 different sections. Feel free to jump around and vote on the stuff that's important to you. Voting ends at midnight on Dec. 11.

AND REMEMBER: You get to add options for everyone to vote on!

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Wednesday, Dec. 4th, 2019

WATCH: Aaron Rodgers and Justin Vernon Talk for 40 Minutes at Lambeau Field

Well, today GQ posted a video that's likely to melt the hearts of Wisconsinites all over the state into puddles of cheesy goop. Brace yourself and watch in awe as two of the state's most well-known dudes, two iconoclasts of Wisconsin culture, two kings of the north talk about ... stuff. For over 40 minutes.

That’s right – Aaron Rodgers (star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, NASCAR husband, hail mary king, the guy from the insurance ads and hospital billboards) and Justin Vernon (guy from Eau Claire, is in a band) had a meeting of the minds, a tête-à-tête if you will, in the heart of Lambeau Field for GQ’s One-on-One series. And, whattaya know, they filmed it.

Rodgers and an often giddy Vernon talk about centering oneself before performances, Aaron's goal to play until he is 40, the story behind Bon Iver's "Holocene" (which NPR listeners just named their favorite song of the decade), and a bunch of other stuff. 

You’re probably already watching it, and not really reading this anymore, so I’m just gonna stop writing now. Enjoy!

Psssst. Around the 26.50 mark, Rodgers references The Pickle. 

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Monday, Nov. 25th, 2019

Eau Claire Library Announces "Dabble Box Maker's Residency"

Do you have a artistic skill, hobby or ability that you believe others could learn from? Would you like to share your knowledge with students of all ages?  L.E Phillip's Memorial Library will be hosting a "dabbler in residence" throughout the Spring and Summer here in Eau Claire through their Dabble Box program. 

The residencies will run for four weeks, with three two-hour classes per week, with the sessions running from March 2–27 and August 3–29. Before you panic about how to fund your dabbling tutorials, remember that you won't necessarily have to pay out-of-pocket for supplies, with a $750 stipend and up to $500 in supply reimbursement made available through the L.E Phillips Memorial Public Library Endowment Fund. 

If you are interested in applying to be a dabbler in residence or for more information about the Dabble Box program, visit  With the application deadline being this December 15, participants are encouraged to apply sooner than later! 

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Wednesday, Nov. 20th, 2019

Bon Iver Nominated for 2020 Grammy Awards (Including Album of the Year)

Just this morning – the day before a series of "Eaux Claires Hiver" shows planned by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon are set to start in downtown Eau Claire – the Grammy Awards released their list of nominees for 2020, and Bon Iver is nominated for four of ‘em, including (for the first time) Album Of The Year for this year’s i,i. Pretty big deal. The band is in pretty steep competition this year among a crew of wildly talented and young stars like Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, and Lil Nas X. 

Justin Vernon has been vocally critical of the music industry awards show in past years, calling it a “shit show” and tweeting stuff like: “The Grammies are for the music Industry. Music, itself, is for everywhere else and everyone else. Good to remember.” Still, even though it’s happened a couple times now, an Eau Claire band getting recognized on that level is pretty crazy to think about. 

Remember, Bon Iver won two Grammys in 2012 for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album for Bon Iver, Bon Iver. The band was nominated in 2017 for 22, A Million in the Best Alternative Music Album category, but didn’t win.

Here’s the list of the categories where Bon Iver is nominated in 2020:


"Hey, Ma," Bon Iver
"Bad Guy," Billie Eilish
"7 Rings," Ariana Grande
"Hard Place," H.E.R.
"Talk," Khalid
"Old Town Road," Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
"Truth Hurts," Lizzo
"Sunflower," Post Malone & Swae Lee


i,i, Bon Iver
Norman F---ing Rockwell!, Lana Del Rey
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Billie Eilish
Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande
I Used to Know Her, H.E.R.
7, Lil Nas X
Cuz I Love You (Deluxe), Lizzo
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend


U.F.O.F., Big Thief
Assume Form, James Blake
i,i, Bon Iver
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
Anima, Thom Yorke


Anónimas & Resilientes, Voces Del Bullerengue
Chris Cornell, Chris Cornell
Hold That Tiger, The Muddy Basin Ramblers
i,i, Bon Iver
Intellexual, Intellexual

Reporting on the nominations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listed Bon Iver's local connections besides Vernon himself ...

In addition to Vernon, other Wisconsin natives named in the Bon Iver nominations for the two major categories were co-producer and co-writer Brad Cook from Eau Claire and co-engineer/mixer Zach Hanson from Chippewa Falls. The band also includes Lake Geneva native Sean Carey and La Crosse native Andrew Fitzpatrick.

Also worth noting, the Sentinel points out the major mainstream artists who didn't make the Grammy cut for Album of the Year ...

Nevertheless, "i,i" was one of eight album of the year nominees announced Wednesday morning. Grammy darlings like Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga (for "A Star Is Born") were shut out in the category. 

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Eau Claire Sets Up Winter Recreation Path

Wintermission Eau Claire to partner with city on pilot project

Images: City of Eau Claire
Images: Wintermission, City of Eau Claire

Wintermission Eau Claire has announced plans to partner with the City of Eau Claire on their first project geared to make the city more winter-friendly. While we are no strangers to the colder months – Wintermission points out we experience 40-60 sub-zero days each year – they hope to make the season more recreational for locals through grants and partnerships with the City of Eau Claire.

➜ To read about Wintermission, we have an article here to bring you up to speed.

This inaugural project in Eau Claire, dubbed the "Winter Recreation Path," is the first step in establishing a "Winter City Strategy" for Eau Claire – a series of programs to be implemented in the coming years. The Winter Recreation Path will include a four-mile portion of central trails to be cleared and rendered safe for biking, running, or walking after each snow event, ensuring a space for activity to safely continue even in the coldest, snowiest months Eau Claire has to offer. 

For more information about this year's Wintermission and plans for future Winter City Strategies, visit

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Wednesday, Oct. 30th, 2019

The Stones Throw: A True Local Haunt

Wisconsin is home to a number of purportedly paranormal locations that have caught the attention of ghost hunters, from the Devil’s Punchbowl in Menomonie to “beastly” Bray Road in Elkhorn and even Milwaukee’s famous Pfister Hotel. For many Eau Claire residents, however, the Stones Throw, 304 Eau Claire St., is more than just a recognizable downtown nightspot.

Originally built as a bank in 1893, the imposing building at the corner of South Barstow and Eau Claire streets that now houses the Stones Throw has been through many changes of ownership and tenants, paranormal investigator Devon Hall wrote in her book “Haunted Chippewa Valley.” Called the Cameron-Drummond-Slagsvold Building after its construction, the Romanesque structure would change its name to the Chippewa Valley Bank, then Samuelson’s Department Store, then became an upscale restaurant complete with an upper-floor balcony and trademark stained-glass windows. Between the 1980s and the 2000s, the space was at times a dance club, a gay bar, and a blues club. Despite numerous transformations over the years, the Stones Throw remains a bar featuring live music from across the Midwest.

But the Stones Throw isn’t just notable for its history and architecture: It’s also rumored to be a place where some patrons arrive but never leave. Legend has it that a man took his life by hanging himself inside the building during the early 1900s, and that another man was dragged into the basement after being murdered. Although paranormal investigators Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk were unable to verify these grisly incidents, this hasn’t stopped instances of owners, bartenders, and loyal patrons experiencing the paranormal.

Employees have reported hearing footsteps on the empty balcony and voices in deserted hallways and bathrooms. Doors have slammed on their own, chairs have moved around, jackets have flown off hooks, and unknown figures have disappeared without a trace. Long-time bartender Matthew Gehler once noted a moment where, during a heated argument between patrons, a glass bottle flew off the shelf into a wall without him even being near it.

“Whatever is here wants to make their presence known,” he explained, “but there’s definitely something here.”

In spite of these occurrences, employees have never felt too afraid or unpleasant, although they have to keep an eye out for more eerie activities. As Halloween draws nearer in Eau Claire, the Stones Throw remains a charming pub for patrons and spirits alike to congregate.

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Tuesday, Oct. 22nd, 2019

Country Jam 2020 Lineup: Luke Combs and Chris Kroeze comin’ through this July

Luke Combs
Luke Combs

Have no fear, country fans. Country Jam 2020 is nigh. Nothing stands between you and the star-studded annual country festival (happening July 16-18) except about six or seven months of winter. We’re only a mere 268 days away from the kickoff, and we’ve got a good chunk of the lineup released today.

Heading up the slate of country radio royalty is Luke Combs (who was actually named Billboard’s Top Country Artist of the Year), Chris Young, and LOCASH. Country Jam will also welcome back local boy turned star of The Voice Chris Kroeze, along with big names like Eli Young Band, Joe Diffie, Carly Pearce.

There’s a promise of more acts on the lineup to be released as summer gets closer and closer, but here’s the full list as of today:

Carly Pearce
Chris Janson
Chris Kroeze
Chris Young
Dawn Marie
Eli Young Band
Gabby Barrett
Joe Diffie
John Michael Montgomery
Luke Combs
Russell Dickerson

Tickets are on sale now at One day GA tickets start at $99, three-day GA tickets are $129, and for students that three-day ticket is $119 for a limited time.

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Monday, Oct. 21st, 2019

Local Writer Gets Beastly for Inside Edition

This week, Inside Edition – yep that Inside Edition – ran a great video spot about Rhinelander’s cryptozoological claim to fame, the mighty Hodag. And who did they find to tell the story of Wisconsin’s most famous mythical beast? Why, Eau Claire writer BJ Hollars, of course.

Hollars – who just last month released Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians, and the Weird in Flyover Country – explains the mysterious origins of the Hodag and what the creature means to modern day Rhinelander.

But that's not all! Some of the Hodag artwork you see in the piece is from local artist Rob Mattison. Check out the segment. And if you find yourself hungry for more tasty tales of regional weirdness, you can pick up Midwestern Strange at The Local Store.

Hollars on the Hodag.
Hollars on the Hodag.

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Monday, Oct. 14th, 2019

Strange Happenings on Lowes Creek Hill

Originally published in 2008, this blog post is based on an entry in paranormal investigator Chad Lewis's book Hidden Headlines of Wisconsin. It's an actual newspaper article from 1908, followed by Chad's commentary. Enjoy!

Strange Happenings on Lowes Creek Hill - Was It a Ghost?

Eau Claire Leader | October 11, 1908

Joe Browning, Olwin Peloquin and Max Fredick, three steady young men homebound last night of street fair got along bravely until they reached Lowes Creek hill (supposed to be haunted) and then something uncanny occurred. Something bright flashed in the trees on the creek and a curious sort of cork screw wind seemed to race around the wagon and scare the horses. Oliver’s and Max’s headgear was not interfered with, but strange to say Joe’s nice new Christie still was snapped from his head and taken aloft and they could not trace it that night. It was found however, next day, and the finder brought it to the Leader office and now Mr. Browning thanks the finder very much. There have been so many things lost in and around Lowes Creek of late that of there is really a ghost there or thereabouts it would not be amiss to put “it” in connection with the Leader office in the matter of lost and found.

Chad's Take:  Keep hold of your hat … 

The Lowes Creek area has been plagued with paranormal reports for over one hundred years. You might think that over the years things would have settled down at Lowes Creek, but they haven’t. A few months ago I received this email about Lowes Creek:

My wife was on her way to work @ Luther Hospital, she takes Lowes Creek Rd. to State St. as her primary route. When she was coming to the bridge on Lowes Creek Rd. that leads over I-94, she started around a corner to find a woman in a light pink night gown with long dark hair standing on the side of the road facing the hill, she made no movement or did not react to her vehicle traveling past her. It was a very chilly morning and it was 6:40am just starting to get light. My wife was just was weirded out by the woman. She was debating turning around to see her, but did not. My wife thought that for the cold temperatures she should have had a jacket or reacted to the cold with her arms crossed or some sort of action to the surroundings.

Unfortunately the witness did not stop to get a closer look at the mysterious looking woman.  With all the odd activity taking place out at Lowes Creek you might just be the next person to lose their hat.

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Romeo: Eau Claire's Oldest Avian Resident?

Comfortably housed between chattering lovebirds and a skeptical-looking Grey Parrot nicknamed “The Professor,” a gentle bird from another time sits and enjoys sporadic bursts of attention from the daily visitors to his domain. His name is Romeo and Tropic Waters on Eau Claire’s south side has been his home for the last 20 years. A mainstay of the store, Romeo loves to greet people, and he usually lives up to his namesake, stealing the hearts of all who encounter him.

As a green yellow-crowned Amazon, Romeo may not possess the flashy looks of a bright red or blue parrot of the Caribbean, but his breed tends to be more gentle and affectionate than its more famous counterparts. And Romeo is famous in his own right, as visitors to Tropic Waters seem to love the aging mimic. There isn't a specific record to confirm it, but his nametag claims he's somewhere near 100 years old.

While we doubt Guinness World Records will be knocking on his cage anytime soon (this kind of parrot isn't known to grow quite that old), Romeo certainly has the demeanor of a bird that's been around for many, many years.  

Despite his big beak and striking colors Romeo's gentle personality is something you immediately notice, and even when his  cage door is opened, he seems to want nothing more than a soft touch to the head and a little affection.  

Romeo's days of flight may be long past, and vision difficulties may make him appear less welcoming, but fear not – he'll probably say hello at least once while you're in his presence.

So if you find yourself out and about, stop in to see Romeo, one of Eau Claire's very oldest avian residents.  

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