Eau Claire invites NCUR participants to Crossing the Bridge

A look into the culture, music and food of downtown through a visitor’s eyes

Delia Brandel

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Photo by Delia Brandel

Acoustic Cafe hosts open mic for residents and visitors alike.

Friday, April 14, the downtown area of Eau Claire hosted Crossing the Bridge: The Music, Art and Culture of Eau Claire.

The goal of the event was to allow the participants of NCUR, the convention being held on UW-Eau Claire’s campus, to explore the city and what it has to offer. 

The event began with an encouraged walk downtown from campus as a way to stretch visitor’s and attendee’s legs and shake off any nerves from the long day of presentations and learning.

Two walking groups were led from Zorn Arena to help the guests arrive downtown for the activities. 

Many UW-Eau Claire students volunteered to help run the three days of NCUR, and direct visitors to the events happening downtown.

David Smitz and Kaija Howard, UW-Eau Claire students and volunteers for NCUR, spoke about the event and its effect on downtown. 

“I think they are just trying to get members of the research conference involved in what it is to live in Eau Claire,” Howard said.

The event started with a virtual viewing of one of the NCUR keynote speakers inside the Pablo Center at the Confluence. 

The viewing also allowed visitors to enjoy and explore the Pablo Center, a fairly new building that opened its doors in 2018.  

Events were hosted around the downtown area, and many included live music and dining. This gave an opportunity for local restaurants to receive traffic. 

Improv, Hip Hop, Live Jazz, Ask A Scientist and a drum circle are just some of the performances that were available to enjoy.

Most, if not all of the acts were local, allowing for the visitors to engage with the community of Eau Claire firsthand. 

The Plus, Acoustic Cafe and The Lakely were all listed as attractions for NCUR members looking for entertainment and a place to eat.

Acoustic Cafe featured an open mic, a common occurrence in Eau Claire. Local talent and NCUR visitors alike gathered to share their spoken word. 

Paul Reid, organizer of the open mic at Acoustic Cafe, Reading on the River, said the turnout for this event was very rewarding. 

“We had almost 40 readers; a lot of them were from out of town, which is kind of cool,” Reid said. 

Reading on the River is hosted biannually, and is usually located at a local restaurant or cafe downtown. 

Alongside the dining availability, the Micon Downtown Cinema Eau Claire showed the movie “Autumn Rush.” 

There were also several UW-Eau Claire student street performers and buskers lining the downtown area. 

More food trucks and vendors were available on campus during the conference, and some moved to the downtown area for this event.

Finally, the shops and boutiques opened their doors, offering discounts and advertisements.

Tangled Up in Hue employee Gabz P noticed how busy the streets of downtown seemed to be Friday night. 

Gabz also said how this event also gave an opportunity for small businesses in Eau Claire to shine, especially after the winter months brought sales down.

“There have been a lot of people coming in and they love it, which warms my heart. Most of them have never been to Wisconsin before,” Gabz said. 

NCUR was a three-day event, starting on Thursday and ending Saturday, with Friday night being the main time for sightseeing and exploring.

Next year, NCUR will be held in a different city, at another university. For more information about NCUR and its events, you can visit the website here

Delia Brandel can be reached at [email protected].