Celebrating a Century & a Half

at 150, Chippewa Falls is still young enough to party

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Pure Water Days
Pure Water Days

The City of Chippewa Falls is preparing to launch into the climax of its sesquicentennial year with a series of parades, performances, and more Aug. 8-10. The Birthday Bash weekend, which starts on Thursday, will involve efforts on the part of the Heyde Center, Main Street Chippewa Falls, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair, the Chamber of Commerce, the city, and more to bring on the fun for visitors and residents alike.

“We’ve gone through some tough times, we’ve gone through some fantastic times. To me, (the sesquicentennial) is the cherry on top of the chocolate sundae, because I have the opportunity to be here as we go through the 150th.” – Greg Hoffman, Chippewa Falls Mayor

Now, if the timing of this culmination has you thinking Chippewa Falls is a Leo (astrologically speaking,) think again. The charter granting the community city status was granted March 25, 1869, which would make the once-logging town an Aries, known for leadership, zeal, optimism, and pioneering.

Planners are just counting down the days to the party, according to Jackie Boos, tourism director at the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce.  The new Riverfront Park plays a huge role in the festivities, hosting music by Chippewa Falls native Phil Cook and Them Coulee Boys during one of the nights. “When the Chippewa Riverfront was brought to the forefront, people really got excited about what it could be,” Boos said. It’s the perfect beginning for the stage to host a successful musician from the community for the first big show, she said.

The festivities kick off Aug. 8 and 9 at 7:30pm with performances of Today in the Valley, by the Swampers. Local Composer Jerry Way performances original “Swampgrass” ballads amid stories of the region along with a talented crew of Chippewa Valley musicians. Shows will take place at the Heyde Center, with tickets available at cvca.net. It will be the 18th year that the Swampers have opened the Pure Water Days Celebration.

On Friday, Aug. 9, the Chippewa Riverfront Park will host the Chippewa Falls Birthday Bash: an evening of music by talented local artists. Food trucks and beer tents will converge on the site to the tunes of Them Coulee Boys, Phil Cook, and more. This free event wraps up the night with a display of shimmering fireworks.

The 43rd Annual Pure Water Days celebration kicks into high gear that Saturday, Aug. 10, beginning with the free Pure Water Days Parade at 1pm. The theme this year is “Historic Chippewa Falls.” The route takes floats – and viewers who follow the New Orleans-style band – down to Riverfront Park for an afternoon of food, drink, and festivity. Arts and craft vendors will be on site, along with antique cars. For the kids, there will be balloons, games, inflatables, and more. The EC Kubb Club will also host a Kubb tournament – sign up information is available on their Facebook page.

The Northern Wisconsin State Fair will bring on a Pure Water Days Music Celebration at the fairgrounds from 6pm-midnight. Parking is free, and tickets can be purchased at nwsf.com. Tribute band Arch Allies starts off the night, which will be headlined by a special guest to be announced July 20.

Other activities on the 10th include the 3rd Annual Pure Water Days Pickleball Tournament at Buchanan Park and the Leinenkugel’s Pure Water Days Races at YMCA Chippewa Falls.

Wrap things up Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Chippewa Riverfront from 2-6pm for Rockin’ the Chippewa Riverfront. This afternoon of outdoor music features The Jerry Way Band and the Mark Healey & Jim Schuh Duo.

For more information about all the fun that will be part of the Chippewa Falls Birthday Bash weekend, visit gochippewafalls.com.

The collaborative efforts of the city and its organizations bode well for the next phase in Chippewa Falls development, Boos said. Over the next several decades, she would love to see more attractions find homes in the city, investments in travel infrastructure to give people access to more of the area, and to see Riverfront Park used to its fullest extent. For now, she is looking ahead to the sesquicentennial. “It takes a village to put this together, and that’s what people have stepped up to do,” she said.