5 Summer Events in the Chippewa Valley

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Northern Wisconsin State Fair: July 11-15

Don’t let its Chippewa Falls location fool you—the Northern Wisconsin State Fair is not your typical small-town carnival. Since its inception in 1897, the fair remains a summertime staple for the young and old alike, consistently drawing in over 90,000 attendants. Whether you’re a Tilt-A-Whirl tyrant, a prize prowler on the midway, or just have a yearly hankering for fried curds and cotton candy, you can count on the NWSF to bring a variety of entertainment to satisfy the entire family. And before you get too exhausted from rides and ring toss, be sure to complete your night with a memorable performance on the grandstand.

Pure Water Days: August 10-12

When the late-August dog days of summer arrive, locals know that the Chippewa Falls Pure Water Days must be just around the corner. From live music and a parade, to food trucks and craft vendors, the weekend-long festival is perfect for families. The Saturday Leinenkugel’s race is the premier event, which features a half marathon, a four and one-mile run, a two-mile walk, and a 200-meter dash. And when you’ve finished pounding some hot summer pavement, you can celebrate by grabbing a scoop of Olson’s famous ice cream, participating in (or spectating) the variety of city-wide games and activities, and finishing the evening with a festive firework display.

Chalk Fest: July 28
From sunrise to sunset, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus mall transforms from a regular college campus into a stunning, colorful mosaic...of chalk. During the event, participants of all ages have the opportunity to showcase their artistic talents on a sidewalk medium. Chalk Fest is open to the entire community, so even if you don’t plan to become a contestant, you are welcome to stroll among the artists’ work-in-progress masterpieces while enjoying good food and live music. At the conclusion of the event, winners are chosen in a variety of categories.

Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival: August 4

For one late-summer event in the Chippewa Valley, over one thousand Wisconsinites travel back in time two millennia to experience the likes of an ancient Chinese competitive sport. During the Eau Claire’s Dragon Boat Festival, over 52 teams of paddlers race for victory on Half Moon Lake in Carson Park. Each 40-foot-long boat is manned by a drummer, a steer person, and a troop of 20 paddlers. Teams compete in a total of three 250-meter races. Sponsored by Mayo Clinic Health System and Hope in the Valley—a nonprofit organization dedicated to cancer awareness—the event this year will raise funds for cancer charities and related services within the region. Whether you’re there to paddle or spectate from the shore, there are also plenty of activities, food, and music at the festival for you to enjoy.

Eaux Claires: July 6-7

For its fourth consecutive year, Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival returns as the Chippewa Valley’s premier indie artist-studded, uncommercialized counterpart to traditional summer music concerts. Founded in 2015 by local Grammy star Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner of The National, the two-day fest on the grounds of Foster Farms emerged as a medium to showcase artistic talent from a diverse spectrum of genres while resisting the business-centered trends of mainstream events. Unlike conventional music festivals, EXC boasts a multitude of spontaneous performances, special collabs, woods-covered stages, and art and lighting installations. But possibly the most against-the-grain aspect of the fest is that, for its fourth year, the lineup will be kept a secret. When concert-goers arrive in July, the performers will be a total mystery. Keeping the set list under wraps, of course, is just another part of the unique Eaux Claires experience.

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