CHIPPEWA FALLS — Pure Water Days always brings in large crowds to Chippewa Falls, but even bigger numbers are expected this year for the city’s 150th “birthday bash.”
Between the 43rd annual parade, live music and games for kids at Chippewa Riverfront park, along with Chris Kroeze playing at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds on Saturday, there are plenty of events going on this year.
Chippewa Falls Main Street executive director Teri Ouimette said she’s excited for this year’s events.
“We’ve got a ton of stuff going on, so it should be record-breaking (attendance), hopefully,” Ouimette said.
The city officially incorporated on March 25, 1869, and the date is included on the city’s logo and letterhead, noted Chippewa Falls city planner Brad Hentschel. The decision was made last year to mark the sesquicentennial as part of Pure Water Days, rather than on the exact date. Hentschel was the point person in city hall working on organizing the events.
“I’m super excited,” Hentschel said. “There have been a lot of hands involved to make this upcoming weekend flow and function well. We hope people who grew up here and moved away will come back for it.”
One of the big differences this year is live music at the fairgrounds, in addition to all the regular activities of Pure Water Days. Kroeze, the runner-up on NBC’s “The Voice” in December, was signed to perform months ago, but it was not publicly announced until after he had played at Country Jam.
“That may be the worst-kept secret in Chippewa, but that (signing) was huge,” Hentschel said. “This will be his first advertised show in Chippewa Falls.”
Jackie Boos, tourism director at the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, said organizers have extended their digital ads into the Duluth, Twin Cities and Chicago markets. There are many indications that crowds will be coming, she said.
“Our hotel partners are reporting 70% occupancies,” Boos said. “We’re really excited about that.”
Boos agreed that this is a chance to show off the city.
“It’s been eight months in the making, and we’re here,” Boos said. “It’s a weekend that shows the great community we live in.”
The parade always heads south on North Bridge Street and typically has 60 to 65 floats. Ouimette said she tries to keep the parade to about one hour in length.
“The theme this year is ‘Historic Chippewa Falls’ to go with the 150th bash,” she said. “People are keeping (their floats) pretty secretive, so I’m excited to see it. People get excited about the themes, so they can plan for it and do something special.”
This year’s parade will include the 132nd U.S. Army Band.
“They’ve performed all over the world,” Ouimette said.
None of the floats this year are politically-related, she added.
Chippewa Riverfront park, which officially opened this year on the north shore of the Chippewa River by downtown, will host the Riverfest activities after the parade, including live music, kids games, arts and crafts and several food trucks. There will be a kubb tournament and a rock climbing wall. The fireworks show will begin at 10:15 p.m., after live music wraps up.
Rob Kiefer, Chippewa Falls City Council president, encouraged people to make their way to the city this weekend.
“I think everyone in the Chippewa Valley should come and celebrate,” Kiefer said. “It’s going to be a good party with good music. I think we’ll have a good crowd.”
Other events and activities are going on throughout the city. For instance, at the Heyde Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. today and Friday will be “The Swampers: Today in the Valley.”
The Cook-Rutledge Mansion will be open for tours. The YMCA Pure Water Day races begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, which usually draws hundreds of participants between the four races.