International Fall Festival

Story by Eric Larson

This weekend, the streets of downtown Eau Claire will be filled with as many festivities that can possibly be crammed into an eight-hour time frame. Parades, crafts, and international food vendors are only a taste of what to expect at this colossal crunch of culture and cuisine. Sound intriguing? It should.

The International Fall Festival, for its 34th consecutive year, will take place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday on South Barstow Street.

The festival is being put on by Downtown Eau Claire, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown area. According to their website, eight blocks of the street will be closed off to traffic, making way for more than 100 food and art vendors from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

Aside from its surplus of tables and merchants, the festival will also include a full main stage lineup of local entertainment groups and international/ethnic performances. Starting at 3 p.m., the Parade of Nations will follow South Barstow Street from Wilson Park to Phoenix Park. Inflatable games and a petting zoo will also be readily available all day, according to the website.

The event has proved immensely popular in the past, being voted three years in a row as the “Best Festival” in Volume One magazine’s yearly “Best of the Chippewa Valley” survey.

Students and community members are already talking with high anticipation about their expectations for this year’s IFF.
“My highlights (from last year) have got to be the parade,” said Daven Raj, member of the

Student Life and Diversity Commission at the university. “I got to be a part of it for the past two years. The international students have enjoyed being a part of it as well, carrying flags from their home country.”
Raj said he’s anticipating a high level of entertainment, making reference to last year’s renaissance reenactment in which two men – donned in full suits of armor – battled each other in front of a crowd.

“I’d recommend anyone to go check it out,” he said. “It’s nice to see events in Eau Claire that are centered around worldly influence.”
The festivities kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday – stop by for a delicious dose of food, music, and international goodness!