A Handful of Lost Events

Mike Paulus

Some serious festing going on.
 
Some serious festing going on.

Sawdust City Days used to pretty much define summers here in Eau Claire, what with the carnival rides and the classic car parade and so on. It was the last thing we had in town akin to a county fair. And despite recent efforts to revive the fair, the event seems to be lost in time. And now we must travel to beautiful Chippewa Falls to get our annual fair fix – at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair – or venture to a smaller town fair. Or go to Oshkosh. But man, back in the day, Sawdust City Days had its own damn beer cans.

I bring it up because I’ve been thinking about local events that seem lost to time – once annual fixtures providing reference points in our memory. We’re they’d go? Most of these events rarely go out with a BANG. They usually go out with an expensive legal red tape plus poor attendance or something like that.

Here’s a TINY list of long lost local events off the top of my head:

Photo by Erica Rasmusson Reyes
 
Photo by Erica Rasmusson Reyes
The Drag Race (down Water Street)
I can’t claim to be an expert on the “Drag Race,” but from what I gather, it was a kind of response to the Indianapolis 500, where regular patrons at The Joynt – male patrons – dressed in drag and paraded down Water Street in Eau Claire. Quite a while ago, “Jack” – a longtime Joynt fixture – told me they had to stop organizing the race because the city told them they needed insurance. This made the race, in the parlance of cross-dressing barflies, “cost prohibitive.” Any details/history would be much appreciated.

Joynt-based Bonus Event: The Bloom’n Idiot Marathon
I know even less about this race, but it appears The Joynt used to be frequented by runners. I’ve been told this was a marathon run all the way from Bloomer. Wis. to the Joynt, the idea being to get there as it opened at noon. Again, any more details/history would be much appreciated.

Thanks to Davin Haukebo-Bol for the bloomin' t-shirt picture.
 
Thanks to Davin Haukebo-Bol for the bloomin' t-shirt picture.

White Pine Open Mic
This was a long-running open mic held at The Creamery over in Downsville – leaning heavily towards poets and singer/songwriters. It was basically an institution to its regulars, providing a comfortable outlet to longtime local writers. I’m not sure what happened, but it seemed to die out around the time The Creamery started changing ownership (it’s closed now). I recently saw a “White Pine” branded open mic at the Raw Deal in Menomonie. I assume it’s connected but can’t say.

Ye olde slam poster.
 
Ye olde slam poster.
Running Water Poetry Slam
I might be a bit biased towards this one since my wife and I started it and all – a laid back poetry slam held at the Acoustic Café in downtown Eau Claire. We held the slam on the last Thursday of every month, year round, for about seven years. In 2006, we handed the reigns over to a regular slammer, who later passed it on to another organizer, and it eventually fizzled out.

Critical Mass
This local installment of a biking awareness/social event (that happens around the world) ran on regular days in Eau Claire for a few years. Bicyclists gathered en masse to exercise the street rights afforded to bikes – and to remind motorists of who they share the road with. After a run in with the ECPD involving a trek down Hastings Way, the weekly Critical Mass rides became sporadic and then disappeared.

This is obviously just the tip of the tip of the tip of the ice berg, because, you know, top of my head. And these events certainly don’t go back that far in time. So please let us know about what local events you remember – fondly or otherwise!

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