Artists share performances at Open Mic at Forage

Local artists performed for the community at Forage in Downtown Eau Claire

Skyler Schad

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If you’re asking me
October 4, 2023

Photo by Skyler Schad

Eau Claire musicians, poets and comedians come together to share their artistry.

Forage in Downtown Eau Claire held their monthly Open Mic event on Sept. 28th. The event happens on the last Wednesday of every month and welcomes anyone to come and share their talents, or simply enjoy the show with friends and a drink.

Lydia Park, Forage’s event manager, said they have been holding open mics for 3 to 4 months. She noted how a lot of time and planning goes into the event, especially when it comes to getting the community to attend through promotions.

“Every time we have Open Mic, you can never predict what’s going to happen, so that’s the best thing about this event,” Park said.

Park has experience as a musician herself and grew up doing open mics. She has always loved the diversity of open mics when it comes to age and experience, but especially the vulnerability it takes to perform.

“You really just have to give yourself and hope that people receive you in a good way,” Park said. “You have to go into it knowing that it’s going to be kind of wild and nothing you would expect, but there’s never a bad vibe, and always good energy and open hearts.”

Park said the response to the Open Mic at Forage has been so positive, and that’s what brings more people to the event every month. She hopes to keep incorporating art into the community, especially as new generations of students come into UW-Eau Claire.

St. Clare Tomashek, department assistant for the education program at UW-Eau Claire, read a few of their original poems at Open Mic at Forage, including one titled “Careless or Care-Less”. Tomashek started writing poems six years ago amidst the stress of school.

“I like to write about things that are things happening to me in real life and are difficult to work through. It’s a way of processing things,” Tomashek said. “Through art, I can take something that is really confusing and make something rewarding or beautiful out of it.”

Tomashek said this was their first spontaneous open mic night.

“I loved seeing how many different people showed up,” Tomashek said. “It was fun to come and see that everyone is in a similar position to me and they’re bringing their art that they’ve made in their homes and saying, ‘Hello world, I am going to share what I have and what I do.’”

Kat Wilmes, student-teacher and choral major, performed two of her original songs, “Come to Bed” and “Younger” at the open mic, accompanied by her guitar.

“There was a small group of people here, but there was so much diversity in what was shared,” Wilmes said. “My old roommate (Tomashek) shared a spoken word, and I was in tears, it was so moving.”

This was Wilmes’ first time attending an open mic, and she loved having the opportunity to perform.

“Being able to share something you’ve worked so hard on and share something that’s so deeply personal is one of my favorite parts about performing,” Wilmes said.

Tomashek encourages the community to support local art by supporting events like Open Mic at Forage.

“Join us for the next one,” Park said. “I’m really hoping for a juggler, and maybe a magician.”

The next Open Mic will be held on Oct. 26th at Forage, and more information about upcoming events can be found on the Forage website.

Schad can be reached at [email protected].