Ninth annual Banbury Art Crawl returns to Eau Claire

Nearly 100 artists showcased their work for the community this weekend

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

Photo by Rachyl Houterman

Thousands of visitors gathered at Banbury Place this weekend to check out some of Eau Claire’s finest craftsmanship.

Along Eau Claire’s Galloway Street, a shadow of the community’s industrial past still lingers in the historic buildings and rustic imagery. Today, Banbury Place — once a tire factory — houses one of the Eau Claire’s most vibrant celebrations of art and culture: The Banbury Art Crawl.

This year marks the ninth annual Banbury Art Crawl, which took place on Friday, Feb. 9 and on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Banbury Place. This year’s crawl featured the collective works of nearly 100 different artists and live musicians, most of whom are locally centered. A roughly estimated 6,000 visitors attended the weekend’s event.

Christina Geissler, a co-chair of the crawl, has now coordinated the event for her second year in a row, alongside Lorelei Ernster. According to Geissler, this year’s Art Crawl featured a wider variety of food options and revamped advertising.

“Every year, we try to do a little bit something more,” Geissler said. “It’s always been such a huge event.”

Geissler explained the value of events like the crawl. Not only are members of the community interested in exploring the historic Banbury Place, but they are simply curious to discover what goes on inside. She said she believes the wide variety of art forms showcased at the event make for an important experience — both for the attendees and the artists.

“I think (the Banbury Art Crawl) is beneficial because the community is allowed to see the creativeness that is out in our area — our surrounding areas; so many creative people, so many art forms,” Geissler said. “It’s also good networking, too, for the artists, that people are allowed to see their stuff that they sell.”

Some of these artists include people like Melinda Daubitz and Nancy Moen, both of whom share a passion for collecting and selling antiques. Daubitz, owner of a two-year-old business called Sparrow Antiques, said she believes the Banbury Art Crawl is successful in bringing people out and promoting local businesses. Moen, who has been in the antiquing business for 20 years and is the owner of Lady Amelia’s Antiques and Art, has been a vendor at the Banbury Art Crawl for three years.

“Events like this are important because they give us exposure to the general public who normally wouldn’t come through,” Moen said, “but they do because there’s so much to see in one weekend.”

Fellow vendor Megan Brown, owner of The Daily Soak for 12 years, has sold her homemade soaps, lotions and bath bombs at the crawl for four years now. Brown gave three reasons as to why the crawl is valuable to the community: It unifies the community, brings everyone together and offers people the chance to explore Banbury Place.

“(The crawl is) a great stepping stone for our businesses to get started and meet the public,” said Brown. “They bring our products to the community so that everybody knows what we have to offer.”

Relatively new business owner Shelly Jordahl was a vendor at the crawl for the first time this year. Her business, Art Etcetera and J&W Custom Woodworking, was co-founded by Jordahl and her aunt last May. Jordahl said she believes more people should support the crawl because “it gets people out to see that there is a lot of things to do in the Chippewa Valley.”

Mauricea Ziehr, a junior social work student at UW-Eau Claire, volunteered at this year’s crawl. Ziehr said she is a long-time fan of the Banbury Art Crawl, having attended every year since the event’s initial debut; she said she “wouldn’t miss it.”

“It brings together arts, for one thing, and arts and culture are what’s making Eau Claire, Eau Claire right now,” Ziehr said. “See what’s really happening in this town, because there is life here that people don’t realize.”

Following this weekend’s festivities, on Saturday, the Oxbow Hotel hosted an “Artist After Crawl,” where fans and artists alike were given the opportunity to meet and mingle.