Festival In The Pines
Posted: August 10, 2012
Festival in the Pines started as a whim. A few Eau Claire restaurant owners thought it would be fun to start an event that allowed attendees to try different types of food featured at area establishments. There are no historical facts or attendance figures from that first Festival, but early news reports indicated that the event attracted a few hundred people. I'd bet that noe of the founders of Festival in the Pines thought it would ever be celebrating its 30th anniversary.
By the second year of Festival in the Pines, arts and crafts exhibitors were added to the mix. Fortunately, the restaurant owners realized that they were not experts in arts and crafts and invited Wisconsin Indian Head Country to become involved. The non-profit-based tourism group that specializes in organizing numerous arts and crafts shows throughout a 23-county region in northwest Wisconsin is still involved in the event to this day and is a key component to the success of the annual two-day event.
By 1996, the Eau Claire Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (now known as Visit Eau Claire) decided to sell the festival. Myself, along with two Eau Claire natives, purchased the event the following year. Family-oriented entertainment and a free petting zoo were added to the festival lineup, which also featured live music, a beer garden and other unique attractions. By 2003, I became the sole owner of Festival in the Pines Inc.
In the 15 years that I have had an ownership interest in the Festival, I've encountered a variety of challenges. At times, it has been difficult to attract food vendors. In other years, there were not as many arts and crafts exhibitor applications. A few years ago, I had a tough time attracting non-profit organizations or service groups to participate. Now, for the first time, I have struggled with finding enough volunteers to serve as festival ambassadors.
Festival in the Pines ambassadors are the volunteers who help with the setup and takedown of the event. They also work in the finance trailer or assist with taking tickets and/or managing the entertainment stages. I am not able to pay my ambassadors, but I try to provide them with a few gifts as a sign of my appreciation.
So if you, or someone you know, may be willing to work a four-hour shift the weekend of August 25th and 26th, please contact me. (email@example.com). It's a thankless job to the public, but I would be forever grateful for your help. Plus, it's kind of fun putting on a party for about 15,000 people.