News Column

Eau Claire's Summer Fest back in all its glory

July 31, 2014

By Courtney Kueppers, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

July 31--With South Barstow Street under construction last summer, Eau Claire's Summer Fest was a scaled-back version of its former self.

However, this Saturday South Barstow Street will get its chance to shine as the festival returns to the downtown street that hosted it in previous years.

The all-day event includes a variety of activities for all ages. Throughout the day, festgoers can peruse the South Barstow Street sidewalk sale, watch chalk drawings progress and come to life in Wilson Park, listen to live music and indulge at the beer tent outside The Fire House, 202 Gibson St., and enjoy a family-friendly night of fun in Phoenix Park.

Salina Heller, communications and promotions coordinator for Downtown Eau Claire, said the event is an opportunity to showcase the city's downtown.

The celebration's downtown location is especially appropriate this year after Eau Claire secured the All-America City Award earlier this summer. The city earned the prestigious designation in part because of downtown revival efforts.

The award will be celebrated Saturday with a presentation by some of the city representatives who traveled to Denver in mid-June to vie for the title. The presentation will offer everyone a chance to understand what it means to be an All-America City, Heller said.

"We are really showing off our sense of pride for our community," Heller said. "We wanted to showcase the All-America City award as we will do throughout the year and for years to come."

City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle said she is honored to be among the community members making the presentation at Summer Fest.

"We will talk about our experience in Denver and what this means for the city," she said of Saturday's presentation.

Along with informing attendees about the award, there will be an unveiling of a new All-America City sign, which will be displayed on River Prairie Drive near Galloway Street at the city limit.

Movie madness

After a day of sidewalk shopping, live music and chalk drawings, Summer Fest will conclude in Phoenix Park with a showing of the movie "Despicable Me 2" at the park. The popular animated flick -- known for the movie's yellow minions, which dress in denim overalls and safety goggles -- will be played on an inflatable movie screen stretching 14 feet high and spanning 25 feet wide.

The park will be filled with minions -- minion cupcakes, minion cookies and a minion photo booth, Heller said. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from the film.

Other attractions

This year's Summer Fest will also include a revamped classic car show. The automobiles will be displayed in the parking lot across from the Children's Museum at the intersection of South Barstow Street and East Grand Avenue.

Unlike past Summer Fest car shows, cars in this year's show are all in one parking lot, in part because South Barstow Street will remain open to traffic throughout the day. Only a few side streets will close for Saturday's festivities.

Kueppers can be reached at 715-833-9203, 800-236-7077 or


(c)2014 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

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Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)

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