Stories, Smiles & Big Laughs at The Oxbow Hotel and The Lakely

Campfire Stories: A Night of Fact, Fiction & Fire concludes this year’s series

Photo by Sam Farley

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It was nothing but relaxed vibes at The Oxbow Hotel and The Lakely gallery this past Wednesday as community members and local performers gathered for the final installment of this year’s Campfire Stories: A Night of Fact, Fiction & Fire series.

Despite the dreary weather, the gallery of the Oxbow Hotel and The Lakely was warm and bright as this week’s event host, Jodie Arnold, introduced featured artists Eric Johnson, Laura Buchholz, Tyler Haas and Miss Dee Lovely.

Arnold — who, to name a few, is a UW-Eau Claire creative writing graduate student, co-host of podcast “Tell Me Something Weird, host and creator of the television series WisWomen and True North project director for the new Pablo Center at the Confluence — said storytelling has become increasingly popular in Eau Claire.

“Right now, Eau Claire is very much an artist-friendly place to be,” Arnold said.

The Eau Claire community, Arnold said, is drawn to events like Campfire Stories because they allow for people to connect and give artists and performers the opportunity to express themselves and gain exposure.

“People love to laugh — it’s a thing that binds us together” Arnold said.

Events like these also function as an escape, she said, both for the audience and the performers.

The first performer, Eric Johnson, told a wild tale about disco and baseball. His story involved bonfires in the middle of a baseball field, chants of “disco sucks” and players wearing their helmets in the outfield to avoid the thousands of records being thrown from the stands.

Laura Buchholz was next to take the mic and read a series of excerpts from a past blog. Buchholz made the audience laugh with the idea that “climate change is the result of bad attitudes” and a made-up advertisement for mascara that goes on smooth and comes off in clumps.

Tyler Haas told a story from his days as a college student. One day at a gas station, he said he purchased a speaker from two very trusting men driving a white van filled with “surplus speakers.” He later discovered, much to his chagrin and after a mere 45 minutes of use, it was a complete bust.

“The most embarrassing purchase of my life,” Haas said.

The final performer for the night was Miss Dee Lovely who read a selection of vignettes she wrote called “Love in an Elevator, Two Thumbs Up” and a story about learning to not put your foot in your mouth.

For Arnold, one of the goals of Wednesday night’s event was to encourage her friends to branch out and share their work in the community even if this was their first time. Arnold said she considered the event to be a success.

“I like things like this when you just give artists of all kinds the opportunity to just do their thing without any rules,” Arnold said.

Huggett can be reached at [email protected]