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Blugold gets firsthand experience at Eaux Claires festival

| Daniel Pfab

Troix, the highly anticipated third annual Eaux Claires music and arts festival took place this weekend at Foster Farms. Despite some uncooperative weather, thousands of festival-goers enjoyed a variety of artists and genres ranging from Chicago-based hip hop superstar Chance the Rapper to folk legend Paul Simon. With an eclectic mix of 25 art installations on the grounds, the third installment of Grammy-winner and alumnus Justin Vernon ('04) was another smashing success.

Long before any musician hit the stage at Eaux Claires Troix, a lot of behind-the-scenes preparation took place. From setting up the art displays to building the stages, dedicated workers and volunteers spend hundreds of hours to make sure the Eaux Claires experience is the best it can be.

One group that helps make Eaux Claires a reality is the UW-Eau Claire’s Event Production Crew. Over the last three years, EPC has been assisting Clearwing Productions with all of the set-up and clean-up of Eaux Claires. Dozens of students make up the EPC, and not only do they earn a paycheck and valuable experience, it helps some students take the next step in their careers.

John Jonas, a UW-Eau Claire business major, has been there all three years as a member of EPC. It is something that he looks forward to every year.

“I really enjoy working the festival” John said. “I have had a great time here. Being a crew chief of the Lake stage allows me to get real-world leadership experience and is very beneficial for building communication and management skills.”

John, who has been a member of the EPC since coming to UW-Eau Claire as well as an employee for Clearwing Productions in the summer, enjoys getting to use the skills he learned on smaller EPC projects around the university and implementing them at a major festival.

“By working for Event Production Crew during the school year I have made a lot of friends and it is fun taking what we do during the year and applying it to a much larger scale. We get to work with professionals and I love to see how they put on these big shows and work alongside of them.”

Though the work is enjoyable for John, it is a very labor-intensive process.

“We build it from the ground up so there is a lot of work that needs to be done with building stages, doing ground lighting and front of house systems, as well as barricades,” he said. It has been a labor of love, and John would recommend his path to anyone who hopes to be involved in future festivals.

“It is a great way to meet people from other schools and even from your own school. I think it is fun to be a part of a festival inside of Eau Claire. It’s a big factor and many people talk about the festival and it’s amazing to be a part of it.”

John loves working with EPC, and the Foster Farms location coupled with all the community has to offer makes Eaux Claires something truly special.

“The festival has really become a part of Eau Claire and there are many people who visit downtown and see what we have to offer. By working the festival, I help show festival-goers what Eau Claire is about and the awesome experience a city like this can provide.”