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Our top 5 lists are compiled by our crack team of know it alls and busters of chops. In reality, everyone's list to these things should be different. Have fun with our lists and if you have something you want us to "list out" send us the suggestion.

Top 5 Way to Complain About Eau Claire’s Residential Snow Plowing

 

Living in any region where snowfall is possible means it is your right - no DUTY - to complain about the quality and consistency of the town's snow plow operation.  So how to go about complaining about it in Eau Claire?  Our crack team of B.S.ers has your fail-safe guide to getting your message out in a mature surely not pointless way.

  1. Be witty on twitter

 

No one respects a person more so than when they bitch and moan on social media. Post photos, perhaps even a overused meme.

2.  Sarcastically wave the drivers

 

They’ll appreciate the salute and be sure to put you on the top of the list next time.

3. Write a letter to the editor at the Leader-Telegram

 

Everyone in town reads the paper cover to cover. What other way is there to reach a

everyone in town.

 

4.   Call into local radio

 

Assuming you get through and that the person hosting the show isn’t is actually live and they aren’t doing the show in a studio in the Twin Cities, Madison or Los Angeles…no doubt this will make a difference.

 

5.   Be a local TV host and break the “one and one rule”

 

The one and one rule is where talking heads try in vain to sound natural with banter.  Person A says one thing, the other says something…they both chuckle then send it to weather.

Well, in this scenario they talk about the roads in a manner that is more than “banter” and all heck will break loose.  Few in town admit to watching local news anymore but oddly everyone in town will claim to have seen this live if one of the talking heads goes off script.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Things to by Thankful about Living in Eau Claire

It’s easy, almost lazy psychologically to lean to the negative.  The whole scientific proof that it takes more muscles to smile than to frown is the visual and physiological evidence to that but come Thanksgiving it’s our responsibility to be thankful because everyone has something.  That includes from a community standpoint.

Through all the issues our community may have, there are things that make it livable.

  • Ease of getting around

    • Within Eau Claire’s faux beltway, and extending beyond that, it’s easy to get from point A to point B.  Traffic most days is limited to a four-five car backup at the Clairemont traffic signals.  Sure, we’ve all run late for something and hit every signal one of the lights on Hastings and cursed the traffic gods but in a moment of clarity we’ll admit it’s our own fault we left late. The emergence and focus on walking/biking trails has increased the area’s mobility in that regard as well.

  • State University System

    • From jobs, to a “brain-gain” to entertainment options it should never be lost that Eau Claire has a university school.  At some 10k plus students, a school of that size is typically viewed on a more regional level and we’ve all been guilty of taking this for granted.  UW-Eau Claire is in many ways something that separates the city from places like Rice Lake, Chippewa Falls or Wausau.

  • Positive Momentum

    • Things are moving forward and long conceptualized wishes are coming true. From downtown beautification, to the Confluence to the upcoming Sonnentag Center and the various smaller projects much is happening.  If you aren’t growing you’re dying.

  • Local Media

    • Not every market this size has as many options.  Granted, more and more are simulcasts and less local but it’s still better than most communities this size.

  • Access to I-94

    • Don’t like what is happening around here…hop on and away you go.  It’s almost a four-letter word nowadays to say you “went to the cities for XYZ” but that is something we should all take advantage of more. We have convenient access to a major metro area and it’s much more than going there for the mall or the occasional ballgame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Places to Kill Time with Family

 

  • River Prairie

    • In short order this development has become a picturesque mixture of housing, commerce and nature trails.  In many ways it holds the qualities of what a mall once did in that you can go there with no clear direction except wanting to eat up the clock and perhaps figure out what to do once there.  Bring the family here to walk the trails, the little ones can play in the center area, and then end up at one of the restaurants.

 

  • Area Playground 

    • The city of Eau Claire, and surrounding communities, have a plethora of playgrounds for families to visit.  There are obviously those that are at schools but don’t forget the various parks.  Not only are their very visible playgrounds in the city’s noted parks such as Carson but also many nestled into residential areas away from main thoroughfares.  Bring the family, let the kids run loose while the parents sit and talk their troubles away.

 

  • Action City

    • This can get pricey but remains a great way to chew up an hour or even two. The operators have done their best to continue to adapt and update the spot over the years so if you go only a handful of times a year it always feels updated while maintaining the favorites you expect when you visit. 

 

  • YMCA Pool

    • The YMCA has a pool but beyond swim lessons most don’t think to use it for a family activity unless they’re associated with the competitive swim program.  That is nonsense as the pool is the perfect way to spend time with the family.  When people go on a short weekend trip the popular activity is to take the family into the less than hygienic pool that the two-star place operates.

 

Why wait to do it at some dirty hotel when you can do it more regularly, and for a cheaper price, at the downtown YMCA.  The pool is significantly cleaner and safer than what is at the “Sleep Well Inn”.

 

  • Children’s Museum

    • Like Action City this too can get pricey, but your inhibition is broken down with the concept that this is “educational”.  Honestly, the quotations are necessary for the feel of the sentence but there isn’t a reason to be sarcastic as the place truly is even for adults. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Scariest Places

Much to the chagrin of ghosts, goblins and purveyors of fear Eau Claire is a rather jovial and happy place.  That said, there are imperfections in even the finest and smoothest batch of delicious frozen custard and with it being Halloween we felt it essential to identify our area’s “scariest” places.  These are the places in which you make sure you have dark underwear on so as to mask the streaks that inevitably come inconspicuous.  These are the places you boldly tell people you aren’t scared of when you’re in the safety of your office, or home or online but in real-life all that bravado falls off like leaves from a tree.

 

  • The Pickle

 

This is the place where your morals have gone to die. No one truly knows what goes on inside the Pickle.  Even those who venture in come out a changed person but have no recollection of what took place within the walls. When we all drive by it on Water Street, we shun peeking at it out of fear of what we may see.

 

  • Under the Grand Ave Pedestrian Bridge

 

Even with the installment of flood lights, this area and its indecipherable graffiti art that routinely pops up warn of doom. By day, this is a peaceful area that commonly welcomes walkers and even people doing some fishing. Yet, come nighttime there is a dark mystery and fear. 

 

  • Merging onto HWY 53     You hold your breath, close your eyes and hope for the best.  Sadly, this one isn’t entirely comical as there is truth.  The Highway 53 bypass, while a great addition to the community a decade ago, has also brought consequences in terms of accidents and a number of “holy crap” moments for motorists.

 

  • EC Public Correspondence Facebook Page/Other Local Satirical Pages (will you be skewered next)

 

Watch what you say, for you may end up being skewered on the site next. All of it in good fun of course, but your ego gets a chunk taken out for a social media minute (which in real life equates to about 12 hours) whenever your name or organization is name dropped.  Will you be known for what you do, or for how the comedians portray your message?

 

  • Dilapidated K-Mart Parking Lot

    • Sure, there is the promise of change coming soon with Hy-Vee but until then maneuvering this lot in order to get to the Pizza Hut or Milwaukee Burger Company is a test of your intestinal fortitude (and your car’s shocks).  You even contemplate whether you need to break out a helmet.  There is no smooth entry from any angle, but the good news is if you survive and conquer your fear there is a delicious burger or pizza waiting for you on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Eau Claire Villains  (10//17/19)

Considering that the most popular movie in the country this month centers around a “bad guy” we figured this is a great time to look our own community’s villains. Here’s the rub, many of these individuals are also heroes to a segment of the population.  Remember, every villain is the hero of their own story. Nonetheless, every worthwhile narrative needs good vs. evil.

And before we continue, do check your sensibilities at the door. We stress, and can’t do this enough, these individuals below aren’t actually “villains”.  This is all in good fun! Smile and hopefully get a giggle…

 

  • John Menard: On one hand, John Menard’s stores are an economic engine to the community, employing thousands. There is even the local folklore that without him there wouldn’t be any need for the regional airport. At the same time, shopping there comes with guilt because while it’s local there is an unmistakable love hate because of an unfounded sense he hasn’t “done enough” for the community.

 

       John Menard has a “Wizard of Oz” appeal.  We view him as evil, yet there is lots of good. Are we being too greedy? What is it we want from him?

  • Millennial Militia:   We’re jealous of them.  They get their way and everything comes up roses. Everything they touch gets positive and glorious reviews.  Who makes up the militia?  JAMF, Pablo, VolumeOne, Justin Vernon, etc.  This group is far from perfect, ranging from Justin’s questionable interview in a magazine over the summer to certain events put on by the group, but the good far outweighs the bad. Line it upside by side and that is factually accurate.  Nonetheless, they take a good amount of dislike thrown at them because… we’re jealous!

 

  • EC City Council:  They’ve pissed you off at least once every six months from the time you recognized government until now.  Sadly, government (like sports officials) aren’t doing their job if they don’t upset you once in a while. Because, unless you’re Scott Montesano, there are times where you likely aren’t in the right.  No one (except for Scott, and he’d be the first to tell you) is perfect.

 

  • Your Friend who Likes the Pickle:  Stay clear of this person! Just because your friend is a lost cause doesn’t mean their efforts to pull you with them to the dark side have to be accepted.  They’ll be persistent, judgy, irrational and likely ruin your night with drama.  In the end, it only gets worse if they succeed in winning you over to their side and pull you inside the Pickle.

 

 

  • Dave Solberg: The city’s engineer has the unenviable job of making things better but only after having to make them significantly worse. When you see him, you know your road is about to get chewed up and your life thrown into chaos for a few weeks.  His appearance in your neighborhood brings freight the grim reaper himself lies awake at night wishing he could equal

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Guilty Pleasures (Updated 9/24)

It’s okay to feel naughty once in a while.  We’re not talking about doing illegal activities or heading out to a rural establishment of ill-repute (we’re looking at you…yeah you… the guy driving to Elk Mound and we know you aren’t pulling into that area to buy shrimp!)

Occasionally going against your personal normalcy strengthens the soul.  Or at least, that beautifully written sentence serves as a great rationalization to indulging on unhealthy calories, perhaps starting unnecessary political fights at the dinner table and taking risks behind the wheel.

 

A cheap burger at Court-n-House (or any greasy spoon bar & grill)

Its not necessarily that cheap, but you feel a sense of “giving it to the local foodies and their disdain for these places” while simultaneously recognizing all that grease is going into your blood stream.

 

Every bite is a time warp to a time when everyone was working their shift at Uni-Royal, excited to hangout at Oakwood Mall and planning to catch a Ken Anderson Blugolds game.

 

Supporting a city council decision measure

The EC City Council has done several questionable things (as has any government), yet there is without hesitation at least a few things you agree with.  When that occurs, and you hear everyone else bagging on them, you feel a little naughty grin come to your mouth knowing you side with them on that particular issue.

 

It’s okay to agree with political leaders and disagree with your friends whom you otherwise side with.

 

Action City

The place is overpriced and one can get bored within 30 minutes. Still, it’s a fun thing to do and splurge on every once in a while. Have the kids run off energy, impress with some go-kart driving on a first date or head over to the water park for a very lean version of a Wisconsin Dells’ experience.

 

You leave Action City stunned at how quickly $20 bills can disappear in just an hour, but did you have fun while you were there?  If the answer is yes…

 

Cutting through Wagner’s alley 

The alley between Kwik Trip and Wagner’s isn’t a road but it might as well be one. Hell, it even has a stop sign.  Why go all the way to the intersection of Brackett and S. Hastings when one can just cut through..

 

Listening to a Bon Iver song and going…it doesn’t completely suck. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t suck.

Unscientifically, we’ve deciphered that 86% of Eau Claire has never heard a Bon Iver song and some 97% wouldn’t be able to recognize one if played to them.  The band, Justin Vernon, his fans, sponsors, etc. don’t care because obviously many others are devoted followers.  The music is like Sushi.  You either love it or don’t care for it and that’s fine.  Yet, we all must admit that even if its not our genre of choice the music “doesn’t suck” and its okay to admit that.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Construction Projects in the Last 20 Years  (UPDATED  9/10/19)

 

 

HWY 53 Bypass

 

As traffic flows smoothly on Hastings Way, and bumper-to-bumper ensues on Highway 53 at peak commute times, one must remember what a monumental moment it was for this road project to open in 2006.  After decades of talk, planning and haggling over the exact route, the bypass was built providing an unblocked, high-speed thoroughfare that connected I-94 with 312.  Fear permeated that the route would leave nothing but tumbleweeds and discarded Walter’s Beer Cans on commercially-driven Hastings.

 

Time has allowed perspective.  Hastings continues to be dotted with businesses and while traffic flow is less, it’s still significant without the backups of the past. That is good for businesses.

 

As for Hwy 53, it created a faux beltway around Eau Claire and has become heavily used, perhaps too used. One could argue it was built with a short-sighted image and is already do for expansion.

 

Royal Credit Union

 

Phoenix Park, the downtown Farmer’s Market, JAMF and all the other development around the northeastern tip of the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers all began with the building of Royal Credit Union (or RCU, depending on what they want to be called on a year to year basis) headquarters 15 years ago.  The leaders of Royal Credit Union took a chance, and while it seems a no-brainer in 2019, it was far from it two decades ago. Downtown had no energy, no life and the area this building would be placed on wasn’t the picturesque spot it’s become.  Without Royal Credit Union taking a chance, development wouldn’t be where it is today and may never have happened.

 

 

Pablo Center

 

The area’s entertainment scene took a tremendous leap forward with the opening of the Confluence/Pablo Center in 2018. This state of the area, multi-million dollar facility is the area’s first-significant “toy buy” in…perhaps…ever.  All the talk of economics, and growing arts and blah, blah…this is a toy and THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. It doesn’t need rationalization.  Toys make life worth living. Even the stingiest curmudgeon doesn’t spend 100% of their income on things that are necessary for survival.  Unless you live in a basic one room shack drinking only tap water and grow all your own food, you’ve purchased unnecessary things from time to time.  It’s okay to build civic projects, and the Pablo Center (especially since its operating in the black) is proof our area can do it.

 

Action City

 

The recession of the late 2000s ruined many things, including stunting the growth that was envisioned for the area South of I-94 (remember Mega Foods’ grand plans?).  However, Action City opened just before and christened its water park and hotel a few years later.  During the recession, they heavily marketed the “staycation concept”.  Over the years, the place has become a common stop for dates, family gatherings and such.  While mini-golf and batting cages and go kart tracks used to be commonplace in communities, those have dried up in the last two decades. Action City is one of the few choices for “fun” in the area that doesn’t rely on some trail, or going to a park and hoping you enjoy the musician that evening.  

 

Fan Deck at Carson Park

 

The heyday of the all-you-can eat and all-you-can drink days of the Carson Park fan deck has been gone for a while. Yet, when the Express started in 2005 and made the significant addition to the stadium in the form of the multi-level wooded deck, it was a “game changer”.  For years, it was the place to be and the place to be seen. July 4th became a mad rush at the gates to make sure you were one of the lucky hundred that would get on the deck before it reached capacity, sometimes having to be in line three hours before first pitch.

 

The deck remains popular for office parties, but the days of it being routinely packed are over. Nonetheless, its opening is significant in that it ushered in a new era of entertainment in the area. This was before all the free concert events and other social events that have become the norm.

 

 

 

Top 5 Eau Claire Celebrities  (UPDATED 8/19/19)

Forget about seeing a major league athlete walking out of the Lismore or standing in line at Festival Foods and “swearing to God” that the person in the next checkout line is that performing artist you know is at Country Jam.  When it comes to celebrity eye-spotting, all we care about is who locally would get you to pull out your phone and sneak a pic.  Eau Claire, like any large town masquerading as a city, has its own set of well-known faces and personalities within the faux beltway.

 

“Holy snickers, is that Andrew Werthmann waiting in line to buy Hennessy?”

 

“Hey, look over there! Its Nick Meyer wearing a Jonas Brothers T-Shirt with and a McDonald’s bag in his hand!”

 

Some rules we adhered to before we unveil this official list.  For starters, this list is fluid as community players change for a variety of reasons. As an example, Matt Selvig (the Gordy’s Guru) practically pitched hams and cartons of eggs in your RAM sleep for years but is now out of the public eye. Also, “national” celebs such as musical God Justin Vernon and MLB pitcher James Paxton don’t count because their fame isn’t as much local as it is national.

 

1.  Any on-air television news/weather/sports personality:  Doesn’t matter what they do, which station or their role.  With demographics for local news skewing significantly older, seeing one purchasing a coffee and lottery ticket at Kwik Trip is more apt to excite the girdle of your grandmother but its still a cool experience.  It’s like seeing an Elephant out of it’s natural habitat and up close.  We gawk, and to be honest, size them up. Some are a little plumper around the waist then we imagine, nearly all are shorter and most maintain a “permanent” smile.

 

 

2. Bill Bertrand – The Morries' guy has filled the void left by the demise of the Gordy’s Guru character. Whether it’s crooning cheesy songs that stick in your head like peanut butter in a doll’s hair, or doing a simple front-facing ad, he is everywhere. Radio, television and on-line.  No doubt, when he walks somewhere he feels a thousand eyes all saying the same thing “that’s the car guy”

 

3. Trax – Who said we can’t put a mascot on this list?  It’s our list!  The mascot of the Eau Claire Express is likely the most recognizable…whatever the hell it is…thing in local sports.  Officially the mascot is a plume of smoke (seriously) but is basically whatever the mind imagines.  Quite often, people joke it’s a large nugget, potato or…yes…defecation.  Nevertheless, when it’s around town people know what is stands for and who it represents.

 

 

4.  James Schmidt – The chancellor of UWEC is seemingly everywhere and its not uncommon to bump into him.  His family is active in sports (especially baseball) and he is an individual who likes being a part of things.  You’ll see him routinely having meetings downtown, attending conferences and making appearances at university events.  A wide smile seems to be painted onto his face and never wavering, making him arguably the most approachable of the local celebs.

 

5.  Chris Kroeze -  This one is a point of contention.  Sleepless nights, chairs thrown and friendships broken over his inclusion on this list. For one, Chris is from Barron which conservatively is 60 minutes away and anything but local.  If Chris was born to the East, he’d belong to Wausau.  To the West…Twin Cities.  South…La Crosse.  Regardless, Chris seems to have successfully parlayed his TV experience in a positive way and that is becoming huge in this area. With Justin Vernon “too big”, Chris is in many ways the “musical act of the area”.  How long will it last?  Arguably, he may fill that for a very long time.

 

Near Misses:

  • Any local politician – Depending on the week and the issue.  What holds them back is the people on this list are typically viewed at worst, apathetically.  With a politician, the swings of support are wild

 

 

Top 5 Tips for Shopping at the Downtown Farmer’s Market  (8/6/19)

 

1. Bring Reusable Bags

You have them. Either collected from grocery stores, as cheap expo giveaways or any other means but you have those reusable bags. This is where to bring at least one.While each stand has their own flimsy plastic bags,this way you can consolidate everything into one.Don’t assume you won’t be purchasing anything nor try to trick yourself by not bringing a bag to force the elimination of spending.You’re lying to yourself.

 

 

2. Bring your own water 

These local vendors deserve your patronage, just not for bottles of water they picked up at the same Kwik Trip you drove past to get there.Beverage options overall are limited and its likely you’ll get thirsty so bring your own water.

 

3. Have a list

This is self-explanatory.Do we really need to explain it?Produce isn’t shelf stable meaning it’s going to go bad within a few days.So pick up that pound of green beans, but do so because you’re planning a meal with them in a few days.

 

4. Don’t limit yourself to Phoenix Park 

Going to the Farmer’s Market isn’t simply patrolling the covered area where goods are. Honestly, that is over in maybe 15 minutes if not even less if nothing catches your eye.Instead, the full experience is walking around the park. Let the kids run around, chase some ducks by the river or use this as an opportunity to go into downtown proper.

 

5.  Leave the dog at home.  Dogs aren’t allowed in the Farmer’s Market itself so why even bother to bring them.  Yet, we still see people who bring their dog and perhaps one goes into the market while a son/daughter, or another adult watches Fido. Makes no sense.  Leave the dog at home and enjoy the Farmer’s Market. Then when you get home, take Sir Barkington out for a walk or play Fetch or cuddle while watching Old Yeller or whatever you like to do.

 

Bonus Item:  If you have a stroller, utilize it.  Perfect for pushing around purchased items like a grocery cart.  Have a kid using the stroller? No worries, stack those beans and corn cobs either on top of them to provide shade, or act a little more mature and stow it underneath.  One word of warning though.  If your kids are on the “edge” where they use or don’t use a stroller…bringing it is typically an excuse for at least one child to demand to ride.

 

 

Top 5 Eau Claire Summer Activities for the “Anti-Millennial”  (UPDATED 7/23/19)

 

Eau Claire is ripe with a variety of activities and options, many of which were non-existent or in their cult/infantile stages only a few years ago.  That being said, while labels such as “trendy” and “hip” are a provocateur to some, they are a deterrent for others.  So here is our guide for those typically turned off by “millennial (and Gen Z) tastes” Don’t be afraid…we were once like you!

 

1.Tuesday Night Blues at Owen Park – This weekly event held, shockingly on Tuesdays, is the uncle to the Thursday “Sounds Like Summer” event at Phoenix Park.  There are some differences between the two that go beyond their locations and music genre.  It’s lower key and mellower. With the playground nearby, parents with kids migrate there. If you like blues, the music is good but regardless it’s just a nice cheap night by the river. An excuse to get out, see people and be seen. Now be aware, you may have to dodge a game of Frisbee played by a guy with braided hair down to his butt. However, it’s okay. You’ll fit right in with your Best Dad/Cargo Shorts, Mom Jeans and faded sports team T-Shirt because that’s the majority of people who are there. 

 

2. Sounds Like Summer – This may be the ultimate hurdle for the person (like me) who fought the invisible war against the “hipsters” a decade ago.  The weekly community gathering on Thursdays at Phoenix Park is centered on local music but the reality is, it’s just an excuse to be downtown.  Arguably 80% of the attendees spend as little as 30 minutes around the actual performance. Maybe you’ll like the band, but similar to Tuesday Night Blues this is more about the scene and even better than Owen Park you have more options. Use this as an excuse to hit up Olson’s or Ramone’s for ice cream.  The place is also jammed with Food Trucks (the cafeteria of the ‘trendy’) so if you’re adventurous and want the full experience purchase a food item and try to awkwardly eat it standing or sitting on the grass. 1,000 more points if you visit Food Trucks with kids and are able to perform that juggling act.

 

Worried you won’t fit in? Ask an intern at your office how to pronounce “Orenda Fugue” (arguably the area’s best band) and you’ll fool anyone that you’re a regular.

 

3. Visit River Prairie – Eat at anyone of the spots…any of them.  They’re spots that are new to town both in actual businesses but also in the way restaurants are laid out.  There is a surprisingly urban feel, which is refreshing.  You won’t get your $4.99, frozen patty burger served with a small bag of oily potato chips here.  Just relax, open your mind and you’ll be fine.  Worried about back-in parking?  For starters, the public has been increasingly giving the middle finger to designers by front-end parking despite signage.  We don’t recommend you do that because you never know when the Altoona police will do a sweep, but there are actual lots to park in as well.  The ‘trendy’ are just as irritated with it as you are so already you share more in common than you think.

 

4. Check out a Live Show at The Plus.  Whether comedy, trivia or music there is usually something going on at this downtown spot that has beautifully executed a slow swing in its perception in town. Once a downtown pizza joint that seemed to be like that person at the office whom you couldn’t tell what their deal was because they expressed wide ranges. The Plus has focused in. Gone is the half-hearted attempt to be a cheap Dave & Busters years ago and introduced over the last few years is an emphasis on being a bar (that serves a full food menu) and live entertainment.  If you haven’t been to the Plus in a while, or haven’t been there since the lunch buffet check it out. They have a full schedule of events online.

 

5. Visit the Brewing Project – This may be the toughest of all as the proprietor himself is a characterization of all that mainstream feared of the “hipsters” a decade ago.  Close your eyes, I say “hipster” and the cartoon you flash across your mind would probably be close to him. We ourselves can’t even muster up the intestinal strength it takes to spell the name of this place with “k”. All joking aside, this spot serves up plenty of beer options and there is sure to be at least one that you’ll stomach (if not be excited about). Not a beer person?  Fine, they have outstanding pretzels. One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten. This place has taken a chance on the Cannery District and has built a beautiful building. They’ve taken a chance when many others don’t.  The place feels welcoming to everyone, whether you’re a beer snob or someone who painfully chokes down one.

 

 

 

Top 5 things that would confound a 2009 Eau Claire Resident Today  (UPDATED 7/8/19)

Make believe for a moment that in 2009, in what was still a mostly empty Banbury Place, a group of Eau Claire leaders froze a person with the purpose of defrosting here in 2019.  Now that person has been set loose (after making their way through said Banbury Place to find it significantly less creepy as it was in 2009 and full of 100% more activity).  After a couple of days, we can assume what they’d think

 

1. Two-way traffic on downtown streets.  You can just about hear this person say to friends while enjoying a cold one at the Livery (which is no longer isolated as it once was) “I pissed my pants driving on Barstow Street”.  One-way traffic was the standard for years on downtown Eau Claire streets before that changed earlier in this decade.  Its so ingrained in residents now that no one really ever jokes about getting turned around but for this time-traveler it could be deadly. The whole Barstow/Graham Ave intersection, with Haymarket and the Pablo…oh my!

 

2. Where is Gordy’s?  In 2009, Gordy’s was just about to begin its binge that ultimately led to it’s death.  It was taking over Copps locations and the area was at its Grocery Store Battle peak with Mega (which was building the new edifice on Hastings which was sure to set the standard for years to come) and Festival Foods.  Sit this person down and tell them the whole tale, right down to how the Gordy’s Guru was more ubiquitous in in this town than a ECPD squad car speed trapping.  Add depth to your story by including the sad fate of that sparkling building on Hastings being empty (the Mega C-Store offices in the back notwithstanding).

 

3. You’re Reading Volume One!  The bible of the Hipsters in 2009, Volume One was that colorful free publication that had lots of cheap ads and a listing of some small shows in dingy bars you couldn’t  possibly care less about. However, since there was always a huge stack out in public it made for good reading material during special bathroom time (remember, this is before most had smartphones and would peruse social media while doing their business).  A decade later, the paper has a sizeable staff (not to mention its expansion online, retail and event promotion) and thriving. The “hipsters” of 2009 are now into their  30s & 40s  and what they trumpeted a decade ago (namely live music) is prevalent in town. Volume One remains an easy target, but people always joke while simultaneously grabbing a free copy and likely participating in one of their events. So who is laughing.

 

4. You Built Something, You Actually Built Something!  Imagine this time traveler’s gawk at the Confluence Center.  Forget all the issues with T.I.F money and the fact the building may have some design flaws and step back.  The whole thing is beautiful and a testament that this area can have nice, NEW, things.  In 2009, this person remembers sitting in hot spots like the House of Rock or The Brat, joking with their friends that the area needed this and that and more of that and some of this, etc.  All had visions and they’d all heard “rumors” but nothing was ever going to be built. Well, BAM…now we have a state of the art performance center (not to mention progress on an event center, library expansion and more).

 

5. What Happened to the Carson Park Fan Deck?  In 2009, THE place in town was the Carson Park Fan Deck during an Eau Claire Express games.  All you-could-eat grub served up by the gang with BBQ Express catering and UNLIMITED drinks.  It was the spot to see and be seen in town. Since then, other things have grabbed at the public. Not to mention, to appease the city, the Express had to nix the unlimited drinks (you can buy as much as you want, but only four are included in ticket).  The deck has mellowed.  There are still some big nights, but the vast majority of tickets purchased are by companies for work gatherings and not the individual/set of friends who would populate it years ago.  A trip to the Fan Deck is still a summer tradition, but events such as "Sounds Like Summer" have taken over as the "hot" and "trendy" must dos.

 

That Seems About Right:  Our time traveler would likely not be shocked by the following:

  • No Passenger Rail Service: In fact, they’d probably laugh when told it remains on a 2-3 cycle that the proponents get everyone’s hopes up but in reality we aren’t much closer.

  • Lack of Southside Growth:  Whether around the mall or south of I-94, the pessimism in our friend wouldn’t be surprised. Remember, they were frozen during the depths of the recession and the feeling that south side expansion was stalling was already in effect.

  • Art/Music Scene: A decade ago, this was already gaining momentum. They may be surprised by the free weekly events such as Thursday’s at Phoenix Park and how Tuesday Night Blues has exploded but overall, this had started as they were being frozen.

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