Gather for a Party on the Prairie

new Altoona park at River Prairie offers outdoor and indoor space for summer shindigs and events

Lauren Fisher, photos by Branden Nall

RIVER PRAIRIE PARK, ALTOONA
RIVER PRAIRIE PARK, ALTOONA

When Wisconsin enters its too-few months of warmth and sunshine, it’s time to take the party outside. Which parties? All of them. The new River Prairie Park off Front Porch Place in Altoona offers seven outdoor locations to host weddings, graduation parties, retirement celebrations, anniversary get-togethers, corporate events and more. Kirsten Bube, director of sales at King Pin Management, works with clients to plan events in the garden, on the plaza, by the river, on stage, or in the amphitheater.

“They all have their own look and feel and a certain touch,” Bube said of the outdoor locations. The Forever Gardens are located just outside the River Prairie Event Center, featuring a meandering stream landscaped with lush grass and ruffled irises. The Four Seasons Plaza boasts a danceable hardscape and a sculpture that can be illuminated with party-themed colors. The amphitheatre overlooks the Eau Claire river, with lit retaining wall risers covered in thick emerald grass. For a more natural setting, The Bluff offers native ferns and greenery with a serene view of the river. More secret treasures are scattered throughout the park, waiting to be discovered by savvy party planners.

“It’s fun to see (the venue) through other people’s eyes,” Bube said. People frequently call asking to reserve spaces that weren’t originally intended to be ceremony backdrops, and she happily obliges.

“This whole park was developed on placemaking principles, and creating a place, a destination. In my opinion, they created a masterpiece,” said Roy Atkinson, management analyst for the City of Altoona. River Prairie Park is central to the River Prairie development, which is home to an apartment complex, a hotel, restaurants, health care options, a grocery store, and more. Woven among the venues is a network of sidewalks and paths allowing people to navigate from location to location without having to leave the pedestrian trails.

Altoona’s upcoming P10 festival will take advantage of the versatility and interconnectedness of River Prairie Park.  The June 16 event will feature live music, food trucks, contests, classes, lectures, and performances. Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy activities from a bird walk to a beer garden. The festival celebrates the spirit of placemaking with which the park was designed.

“People are very very happy with what we’ve done with (the park) – it comes a lot from great guidance from our City Council members and from our city administrator,” Atkinson said. “For a long time it wasn’t developed out here, and then it just caught fire. It speaks volumes to the vision of our elected officials.”

River Prairie Park has nearly 50 weddings booked for 2018, and is already booking for 2020. Weekend slots for weddings and other events are waning rapidly. However, choosing a weekday for an event can add special meaning, according to Bube. She has worked with couples who chose to host weekday celebrations to coincide with a special anniversary, or use a significant number. “Everyone has a unique story,” she said. And she wants to help tell it.

For more information about River Prairie Park, visit riverprairiecenter.com.

Summer Occasions is sponsored by:

Briggs Tent & Party Rental
3350 Horlacher Lane
Eau Claire, WI

Summer Occasions is sponsored by:

Briggs Tent & Party Rental
3350 Horlacher Lane
Eau Claire, WI