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Eaux Claires music and arts festival features production staff from across UW System

| Ann Hoffman

When the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival gets underway today (July 17), most festival-goers will be unaware of the number of person-hours that went into setting the stage for the Chippewa Valley's newest entry in the music festival scene.

A total of 65 students, alumni and other individuals from across the University of Wisconsin System descended on the Eau Claire area July 10 as members of the Eaux Claires festival production staff. This collaboration is the first of its kind among UW System sister schools on any event, said Jason Anderson, assistant director of conferences, marketing and technology for University Centers at UW-Eau Claire.

stages"The experience for them is to get to work with the industry's best and brightest and polish those skills to a level that allows them to go out and attain the job they're looking for," Anderson said in a TV interview earlier in the week. 

The two-day festival is the brainchild of 2004 UW-Eau Claire graduate Justin Vernon, frontman for the indie rock band Bon Iver, and Aaron Dessner of the band The National. The multi-stage experience will feature live music by 42 bands as well as performance and visual art. About 25,000 people are expected to attend each day of the festival, which is being held at the 20-acre Foster Farms, site of Eau Claire's annual Country Jam. 

The production staff includes a total of 37 UW-Eau Claire students with the remainder hailing from UW System schools at Stout, River Falls, La Crosse, Madison and Platteville. A few staff members are UW-Eau Claire alumni or past students.

domesAmong the staff's duties was the construction of the Banks of the St. Coix, a venue consisting of two domes, the larger of which houses a 270-degree video screen that projects unique video/film/and visual effects provided by the artists performing at the festival. 

The staff also assisted with art installations at various locations around the festival grounds, including one by yarn tagging artist HOTTEA at the festival entryway. Other artists creating art installations for the festival include Ragnar Kjartansson, David Sumner and Antic Studios. 

The staff also was responsible for assembling all grounds lighting, including 1,000 feet of lighted pathways and seven light towers designed by UW-Eau Claire event staff. Festival staging, contracted through Clearwing Productions, includes three stages constructed by the production staff. 

The staff is responsible for grounds tear-down after the event.

Members of the production staff have been housed at Priory Hall, just three miles south of the UW-Eau Claire campus, and shuttled to and from the festival grounds, working 12- to 14-hour days.

A map of the festival grounds provides a guide to the event facilities.

Caption for photos: Students on the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival production staff worked long hours getting the facilities ready for the two-day event.