Local jazz musicians part of music series lineup

By:  Laura Schulte with Wausau Daily Herald

The newest music venue in downtown Wausau will finally be put to use this summer. 

Jazz on the River will kick off on July 9, using the portable stage installed this spring in the plaza behind the Marathon County Public Library. The series will feature a different musician or group every Sunday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Each concert is free and open to the public, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs, tables and picnics to enjoy while listening to music. The concert series is a project of the Wausau River District, in partnership with the River Valley Jazz Society. 

The Jazz on the River series was inspired by Denise Sauter, a local jazz singer who is involved with the River Valley Jazz Society, according to a press release from the Wausau River District. Sauter saw the potential in the library plaza and sparked a collaboration with the River District, which funded the stage with grants. The stage cost $12,950. 

Sauter worked in conjunction with the River Valley Jazz Association to select the lineup of local jazz musicians to play throughout the summer months. Here's who you can expect to find playing music at the stage summer Sunday evenings: 

July 9: John Grier's Swing Shift Big Band

July 16: Jazz Central Voices

July 23: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point faculty quintet

July 30: Christine Salerno & Ziji

Aug. 6: Janet Planet

Aug. 13: Omnos Quintet

Aug. 20: Denise Sauter

Aug. 27: Tim Buchholz

For more information about the Jazz on the River series or the River Valley Jazz Society, visit www.rivervalleyjazz.org

Family Fitness Fest returns to Wausau's 400 Block

By:  Wausau Daily Herald

Greenheck Field House will host its second annual Family Fitness Fest from 1 to 5 p.m. June 25 on the 400 Block in downtown Wausau.

Kids activities will include four large bounce houses, a petting zoo, emergency vehicle tours, kids yoga (2 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 3:30 p.m.), a fitness obstacle course, painting, photo booth, big Legos, bubbles, tattoos and live music with Tony Ruffi.

The first 600 kids will receive a free ice cream treat, water or Gatorade, and a goodie bag. Each child also will receive a passport, with a stamp for each activity completed. Stamped passports can be exchanged for a free bounce house pass or free skate pass at Greenheck Field House.

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Wausau's movie theater development moves forward

By:  Stephaine Buffamonte

Wausau residents are getting a look at where the new movie theater will fit into downtown Wausau Tuesday. The new plan shows Sears will be demolished and in place will be the movie theater and plaza.

Project planners hope by the end of next year, families can experience the movie theater. Wausau City Council approved the updated layout Tuesday night moving the development forward.

"As someone who lives and works by the downtown area, it's really exciting to know there's possibility of just going somewhere that's two minutes away instead of 15," Wausau Resident Carly Caputa said.

Development that's moving forward as Wausau City Council approves the layout, tearing down the Sears building and developing a theater and plaza. The city's Economic Development Director Chris Schock said this type of development is more common.

"I think all retail projects that you see built nowadays include outdoor plaza's they include, corridors, alleys," Schock said.

The theater will be separated from the mall, with the outdoor plaza. Executive Director of the Wausau River District Elizabeth Brodek believes this development will bring more visitors downtown.

"The right kind of foot traffic. It's people with disposable incomes who are here for entertainment," Brodek said. "Who are looking to enjoy our downtown and spend their money here."

Wausau Resident Chris Burger believes a movie theater was the right choice

"Going to the movies is going to be a thing of the past, with all the technology that people have now, with their own home TV's and home movie set-ups," Burger said.

Nonetheless, Burger is happy to see it moving forward

"I think it's cool that they're developing the downtown and the River District to try and bring more people in," Burger said.

Wausau's movie theater is a long time coming too. Two years ago, a market profile study from Wausau's River District showed that residents wanted a movie theater in the area. The next closest theater is in Rothschild.

The next step is a plan for demolition, which in this situation, must be a careful process because the building is right next to the mall. 

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Summer lineup announced for Wausau's Concerts on the Square

By:  WSAW Staff

The lineup for a series of free concerts on Wausau's 400 Block was announced Friday morning.

Concerts on the Square are held every Wednesday from June 21 to Aug. 23. The concerts begin at 6 p.m. And typically last two hours.

The 400 Block is bordered by Scott Street to the north, Jefferson Street to the south and sits between 3rd and 4th streets.

2017 Lineup

June 21: Stephen Cooper & Nobody Famous (New Vintage) presented by ReVi Design
June 28: Copper Box (Zydeco Rock) presented by Greenheck
July 5: Trout Steak Revival (Bluegrass) 
July 12: Unity (Reggae) presented by Holiday Station Stores
July 19: Johnny & The Mo Tones (Bluesy Rock) presented by Eye Clinic of Wisconsin
July 26: De La Buena (Latin Jazz)
August 2: Brass Differential (Horn Band) presented by American Family Insurance
August 9: Cajun Strangers (Louisiana Cajun, zydeco) presented Habush, Habush & Rottier
August 16: Whiskey Belles (Western Country) presented by Compass Properties
August 23: Useful Jenkins (Bluegrass) presented by Associated Bank

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Stevens Point chef's retirement, Wausau art shop in regional business news

By: Wausau Daily Herald

 A new store called The Local will open its doors at 420 Third St. in downtown Wausau. The space, opened by local artist Alison Magnuson, will sell Wisconsin-made art ranging from T-shirts to paintings, drawings to candles, furniture and even soap. 

Alison Magnuson, 26, holds a sign for The Local, the newest store coming to downtown Wausau this summer. (Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

"When people walk in, I want them to feel like they're in a retail shop, but it's all hand-made in Wisconsin," Magnuson said. "I want (customers) to know they're helping a family in Wisconsin, which is pretty neat." 

The store will highlight the artists being displayed in the store by sharing their hometown and the story behind the art they're selling. 

The Local will open in July. 

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The Local aims to showcase statewide art

By:  Laura Schulte at Wausau Daily Herald

Alison Magnuson has always had a knack for art. 

The 26-year-old took art classes throughout her life but ultimately decided to pursue a degree and job in dental assistance. But that all changed when she and her husband had her daughter two years ago. Magnuson became a stay-at-home mom, caring for her daughter. 

While at home, she kept herself busy crafting pieces for her online Etsy shop, called Copper Daisy Designs. She refurbished old furniture and created Wisconsin-themed signs and pillows. 

As her daughter has grown, Magnuson has found herself with a little more time and a little more drive to realize her dream, which was to translate her art into a full-time job and a store to sell her goods. 

"The inspiration came from having a 2-year-old daughter. I want her to have a mom who follows her dreams," she said. "I want to have her know that everything's doable." 

Magnuson knew that if she were to start an art business, she wanted it to be in the former Violet Loft location in downtown Wausau at 420 Third St. The small storefront has just enough light and space to support a growing community of artists. 

When space became available early this year, Magnuson jumped at the opportunity to turn the space into her own — a store called The Local. 

The Local will be a way for not only Magnuson to share her art with the community, but also with other artists.

"There are so many talented people in Wausau and Wisconsin," she said.

The store will have space for artists of all types to display and sell their goods, such as T-shirts, paintings and drawings, candles, furniture and even soap. 

"When people walk in, I want them to feel like they're in a retail shop, but it's all hand-made in Wisconsin," Magnuson said. "I want (customers) to know they're helping a family in Wisconsin, which is pretty neat." 

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6 things to do in Wausau this weekend

By:  Laura Schulte at Wausau Daily Herald

Shake the dust off your running shoes and get ready to kick off the summer 5K season with a run to support the Marathon County Humane Society this weekend. 

That's not all there is to do this weekend in the Wausau area, though. Dance on Thursday night, attend a garden party Saturday and catch the season opener for the Central Wisconsin Water Walkers. 

Here's our weekly round-up of things to do: 

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37 things to do this summer in Wausau

By:  Laura Schulte at Wausau Daily Herald

Summer time is finally showing up in Wausau.

Long-forgotten are the days of frozen precipitation and negative temperatures, traded out for warmth, sun and sand at Lake Wausau.

To help keep your days full this summer, we created the following list of more than 30 activities. If you notice an important community event missing from our listing,

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Public stage opens on Wausau Riverwalk

By:  Brianna Hollis at WAOW

There's a new spot in Wausau for local artists to perform.

The Wausau River District has set up a stage in the plaza behind the Dudley Tower.

In front of the fixture is a sign that says "This is your Stage." It's first-come, first-serve.

No reservations are needed, and the electronic system is set up so artists can just plug in and start jamming.

"We wanted this stage to really showcase some of the local talent that we have here in Wausau," said Elizabeth Brodek, Executive Director of the Wausau River District. "We have an amazing amount of local musicians and artists, and the talent they have is just incredible."

The stage was paid for with a grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. 

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Wausau River District adds stage on riverfront

By:  WSAU

There's a new spot in Wausau for local artists to perform near the East Riverfront.

Wausau River District has set up a stage in the plaza behind the Dudley Tower with a sign that says "This is your Stage." It's first-come, first-serve, with no reservations needed. The electronic system is set up so artists can just plug in and start jamming.

Elizabeth Brodek, Executive Director of the Wausau River District, spoke with Newsline 9.

"We wanted this stage to really showcase some of the local talent that we have here in Wausau," said Elizabeth Brodek, Executive Director of the Wausau River District. "We have an amazing amount of local musicians and artists, and the talent they have is just incredible."

The stage was paid for with a grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin and is the latest in additions to the downtown aesthetic. Other additions in the last year are the painted pianos that will soon be ready for use again throughout the area and the umbrellas above 3rd Street leaving the Wausau Center Mall, which were swapped out for lights in the winter.

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Open Streets Wausau kicks off in downtown

By: Daniel Keith

Part of downtown Wausau was closed to cars on Sunday for the entire community to enjoy. 

It was the inaugural Open Streets Wausau Walk on 3rd Street. The road was closed for four hours so people could walk, bike, and enjoy the downtown area. 

The street was closed from the Wausau Center Mall to the Woodchucks Stadium. 

Organizers said that the event offers a unique experience for thousands of residents to take in the culture of the downtown district. 

"It really allows you to slow down and take a look at your community at a little bit slower pace," said Andrew Lynch, an organizer of the walk. "You can notice things you're not going to see when you're going by at 25 mph." 

Lynch said it also allows people to enjoy the new River Edge Trail along the Wisconsin River.

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Second Avenue Block Party shows off street renovation

By: WSAW Staff

The band played on despite rainy weather at the Second Avenue Block Party in Wausau.

Yard games and live music entertained the crowds Saturday, while local businesses highlighted what makes them special.

Last year renovations on the block were completed to drive additional development and investment.

"This project was about four years in the making, and to come together now to celebrate what finished late last October, I think everyone is really excited to be able to do this today," Wausau River District Executive Director, Elizabeth Brodek said.

On Sunday, the Wausau River District will close Third Street to traffic to make way for live music and recreation.

The event will also feature live local entertainment from Dead Petals, Almost Famous Trio, Tim Tesch and Jerry Duginski.

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Open Streets Wausau happening this Sunday

By:  WSAW Staff

Open Streets Wausau is happening Sunday, May 21, in the city's downtown. The Executive Director of the Wausau River District, Elizabeth Brodek, and the Lead Organizer, Andrew Lynch, stopped by NewsChannel 7 at 5 Thursday to tell us all about it.

From Noon until 4 p.m., residents can bike, run, walk, roll and even skate in the middle of Third Street. That's from the Wausau Center Mall to Athletic Park and back along the river edge trail. Along the way, there are activities, food vendors and local musicians.

The event is free to open to the public.

Open Streets is an international movement.

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Eclectic store opening among regional business news

By: Daily Tribune Wisconsin Rapids

There's a new place to go in Wausau if you're looking for a gift that's a little out of the ordinary.

Eccentric Co. Emporium, owned by Brooke Venture Rodriguez, offers everything from herbs and candles to statues and salt lamps. The store stems from her interest in things that are a little out of the mainstream, she said.

Eccentric Co. opened for business Monday in Washington Square, 300 Third St.

Massage therapy studio opens in City Square

WAUSAU - Katie Smogoleski recently opened Now and Zen Massage in the City Square building in downtown Wausau. After massage helped to cure her tension headaches and helped alleviate aches and pain for a few of her family members, Smogoleski decided to make a career change and leave her corporate job.

She opened the studio in early April, and is now accepting new patients in need of relaxation.

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Umbrellas over the 400-block are back for the season

By: Staff at WSAW

 It's another sign of spring on the 400-Block! Three hundred colorful umbrellas are going back up in downtown Wausau.

The display is being set up on Third Street near the mall.

Last year the general manager of compass properties, wanted to show his appreciation to the area for 20 years of employment.

He says he saw a similar setup in a city in Portugal, and new this year, green umbrellas were added.

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First Thursdays Return to Wausau

By: Logan Wegner at WSAU

First Thursdays officially return Thursday May 4th. First Thursdays are held the first Thursday of each month from May through September. From 4-8pm there will be live local music, live art creations, and other themed activities put on by local businesses.

Assistant Director of the Wausau River District, Blake Opal-Wahoske, says First Thursdays have a great impact on the local economy.

"When you shop downtown, 3 times the amount stays in our local economy verses the big box retailers. That's an estimated $130,000 economic impact over the course of the season," said Opal-Wahoske.

Each First Thursday will have a different decade theme night. May's decade is the 1960's. Opal-Wahoske says the flashback will be complete with songs being preformed from the '60's.

"Oh, it's going to be like Throwback Thursday, a blast from the past," he said. "So, you're going to get all that vintage vibe from downtown. Holly Ann Music, a downtown business, her students are going to be down on the corner of Jefferson and Third Street and they're dressing up in their costumes and singing 1960's songs."

Future theme nights include "School's Out for Summer" for the 1970's in June,  "Heating Things Up with Neon" for the 1990's in July, and "Take Me to the Ball" for the 1950's for August.

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Eclectic store opens in downtown Wausau

By: Laura Schulte at the Wausau Daily Herald

Brooke Ventura Rodriguez has always been curious about things that are a little out of the mainstream.

That's what led her to Reiki, an ancient Japanese practice that aims to realign energy in the body. It focuses on one's spiritual dimension to reduce stress and promote relaxation by the laying of hands on a person's body.

After finishing her schooling on Reiki, Ventura Rodriguez was looking for a way to support her part-time gig as a healer, in addition to her job as a hair stylist at Absolute Hair. That's when a friend suggested a retail space.

"That kind of started me on a journey," she said. "And it blew up into a full retail store."

Eccentric Co. Emporium offers a wide range of products, from hand-made jewelry to incense and herbs. (Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

Ventura Rodriguez opened Eccentric Co. Emporium on May 1 in downtown Wausau's Washington Square building. It took her a few months to prepare, but the small store is packed with goods ranging from herbs and incense to books on rare religions and hand-bound journals.

"It's a conglomeration of my hobbies and things I've been interested in learning more about," she said. The tagline for the store is "metaphysical oddities."

Eccentric Co. also features the work of local artists such as Elizabeth Johnson, also known as LittleMissLizaBean, who creates one-of-a-kind jewelry, and hand-blown glass art by local artists whose company is called Jellyfish Joy.

"This is a place, no matter who you are, you can feel comfortable coming here," Ventura Rodriguez said. "I guess part of why I wanted to open is so people would have a place to find things out of the box and feel comfortable doing it."

And Ventura Rodriguez will continue to offer her Reiki services for those who are interested. She'll close the shop down on Sundays, and allow customers to book time slots in the shop for personal appointments, and someday, she hopes to be able to host classes as well.

Eccentric Co. Emporium will be open varying hours through the month of May, but the schedule will likely be more steady once she finds help in the shop. The shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Washington Square mall is at 300 Third St. in Wausau.

For more information, visit the Eccentric Co. Emporium Facebook page, or call 715-393-4493.

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First Thursdays returns to Wausau River District

By: WSAW Staff

For its third season First Thursday will return to the Wausau’s River District.

First Thursdays, the monthly social-retail event held from 4-8pm every first Thursday May through September, launches its 2017 season on Thursday, May 4.

Participating business, VosStudios and its owner, Emily Vos, joined the Sunrise 7 to talk about the event kick off.

First Thursdays is a community event fostering the exploration of local businesses and the whole of downtown Wausau. Each month will feature live local art and music, and a scavenger hunt with a chance to win a gift certificate to any participating business. The social and retail event began as a way to encourage local shopping. Returning more money to the community.

Elizabeth Brodek, executive director of Wausau River District agrees, “First Thursdays is a fun event designed to get people exploring all the wonderful businesses that Wausau’s River District has to offer, and highlight the immense amount of local talent we’ve got in Wausau. It’s the biggest community event in Wausau that highlights our local talent and treasures.”

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Wausau Dining Week to come back for 2nd year

By:  Stacia Kulakowski at WSAW

Downtown Wausau Dining Week is celebrating its 2nd annual event April 17th-21st, and this year there's thirteen participating restaurants that have a lot of good menu items to try out.

"Last year we had eleven restaurants, and this year it's thirteen, so we're growing and it's a great feeling," Elizabeth Brodek from the Wausau River District said.

The week allows diners to enjoy different three-course menus, some even including specially made items just for the week.

"The meals range in price depending on the restaurant, but you'll get an appetizer, a dinner, and dessert and of course get to enjoy everything that downtown Wausau has to offer," explained Brodek.

The goal is to create a price fixed three-course menu for everyone to enjoy.

Brodek said that Wausau in general takes in thousands of people for this event, and that now that the river district is starting to grow, even more people should come out and explore the area.

The participating restaurants include: 
-319 Bistro
-Back When Cafe
-Chatterbox Bar
-City Grill
-Jalapeno's Mexican Restaurante
-J. Gumbo's Cajun Creole
-La Prima Deli
-Malarkey's Pub & Townies Grill
-The Mint Cafe
-The Paisley Mug
-Peking Restaurant
-Polito's Pizza
-Rosati's Pizza

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Downtown Wausau dining-deal week returns

By: Laura Schulte at the Wausau Daily Herald

Restaurants in downtown Wausau are gearing up to offer a week of deals on dining.

Downtown Wausau Dining Week will return for its second year, starting April 17 and running through April 21. During that time, downtown restaurants will offer three-course meals ranging from $7 to $12 for lunch and $10 to $35 for dinner, according to a press release from the Wausau River District.

Participating restaurants include 319 Bistro, Allister Deacon's Coffee House, Back When Café, Chatterbox Bar, City Grill, La Prima Deli, J. Gumbo's, Jalapeno's Mexican Restaurante & Bar, Malarkey's Pub/Townie's Grill, The Mint Cafe, Polito's Pizza, Rosati's Pizza and Peking.

Wausau hosted its first Downtown Dining week in 2016 and the event drew thousands of restaurant patrons, according to the press release.

"The main objectives of Downtown Wausau Dining Week are to show off the talent and diversity downtown restaurants have to offer," said Tyler Vogt, owner of Malarkey's pub and co-coordinator of the event, in the release. "There is a solid group of places that have 25 years of experience, as well as new places with hip and innovative menus. Within just a few blocks, you can get American, Chinese, Cajun, deli, bistro and great bar food. ... We want to help make it habit for people to stop downtown and dine anytime."

Customers will have a chance to win a package of gift certificates, valued between $130 and $260, to each participating restaurant. To enter the drawing, customers need to collect their receipts from three participating restaurants throughout the week and drop them off at the Wausau River District, 316 Scott St. with contact information. The winners of the three packages will be announced the week after Downtown Wausau Dining Week.

For more information or to see specialized menus, visit www.downtownwausaudining.com.

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