2023 Downtown Eau Claire Awards

Hosted by the Brewing Projekt; local businesses recognized

More stories from Winter Heffernan

April 3, 2023

Photo by Winter Heffernan

Attendees mingle at the event.

Downtown Eau Claire is home to many events and businesses. Each year an awards ceremony is held to celebrate their contributions to the community.

Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated (DECI) hosts the Downtown Eau Claire awards, a non-profit organization that promotes local businesses, coordinates local events and organizes local projects.

Disa Wahlstrand is the former DECI chair of the board, having worked with DECI for six years.

“We’re an organization that has been around for a long time. The city helps make us happen. Big membership comes from our downtown business improvement districts,” Wahlstrand said. “We have member businesses that contribute too.”

This year, the Downtown Eau Claire awards were hosted on March 2 in the upper venue area of The Brewing Projekt, a local brewery and taphouse.

The awards ceremony offered live music, food provided by The Cranky Buzzard and charcuterie platters by Third and Vine. The food was free, but drinks could be purchased at an additional cost.

After a cocktail hour, the awards ceremony began. Nine awards were given out this year, five of which were voted on by the public and four picked by nomination.

The first award given out was “Favorite New Business.” In this award, voters picked Reboot Social, a new bowling alley and arcade. Reboot social also received the vote for “Favorite Downtown Business.”

The next award, Volunteer of the Year, was given to Scott Ranilla.

“As a volunteer-driven organization, we truly depend on volunteers to achieve our goals, and we’ve been lucky to be able to rely on volunteers such as Scott,” DECI announced. “You’re bound to find yourself on a committee, board, or volunteering for an event with him…”

DECI does not only rely on volunteers to run their events but it also has local business partners. The “Event Partner of the Year” award is given to one of these businesses. This year, it was given to Ayres Associates, a local engineering firm.

Ayres Associates helped with a fundraiser last fall where a meal was served on the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.

“As our auxiliary serving team, they worked very hard throughout the evening, balancing trays, hauling tubs, serving tables and all the while, bringing their positive, can-do vibes to the night.” DECI wrote.

The Pablo Center was given the “Member of the Year” award.

“The Pablo Center has certainly brought huge changes to our downtown. Physically, the center has come to define the South Barstow skyline (if it can be called that),” DECI sai d.

The “Most Impressive Glow Up” award is given to a location that is voted to have improved its appearance and atmosphere. The award was given to the L.E. Philips Memorial Public Library for its recent modernizations.

Other awards given out were “Favorite Downtown Event,” which was given to Food Truck Fridays, “Best New Development,” which was given to the Eau Claire Childrens Museum, and “Outstanding Achievement,” which was awarded to the South Barstow Business Improvement District.

“DECI is such a great organization; it is so cool. Especially the students probably see so much energy downtown because of the events and businesses,” Wahlstrand said.

Heffernan can be reached at [email protected].