No Eaux Claires music festival in 2019, organizers say

In 2016, a fan hoped that Kanye West would make a surprise appearance at Eaux Claires. He didn’t. Nate Ryan/MPR

Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, the eclectic two-day summer gathering that pulls about 20,000 people to Eau Claire, Wis., is no more. At least in 2019.

Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner started the festival in his hometown four years ago.

But summer music festivals are becoming musical tap rooms — there are too many of them now for even the good ones to survive.

In a statement on the festival’s website, the organizers say the festival will be back in 2020. But, beyond that, the future plans are pretty vague.

As winter deepens here in Eau Claire, WI, we at Eaux Claires wanted to reach out before it gets too cold and update you to the many conversations that we have had over the past couple of months.

In the last four years we have grown together as patrons and organizers; these experiences are perfectly focused within our own collected memories, and feel something like going through four years of high school – the growth, the mistakes, the energy, but most of all the searing, stumbling beauty of becoming one’s self.

After our Senior year, we find ourselves wanting to move out, change things, and take stock of who we’ve become. In order to manage this transition, we are going to take a year off. While it will be hard for us to break the chain of momentum and the positive impact the festival has had on our community, we have fresh, clear ideas of how to make it even better. But we aren’t just changing locations, we’re bolstering our philosophies. We want to celebrate EVEN MORE about this REAL TOWN we call home by extolling and imagining things we haven’t seen or experienced to date.

Ultimately, we want a better experience – not just for us, but for everyone. Is that too vague? We’re not trying to do that anymore, so here…

No Eaux Claires V in 2019. It will happen in 2020, and it will be more focused, fun, and internal. We will have a couple of public events in the coming months hosted at Pablo Center at the Confluence. These events will incorporate performance and dialogue about the direction we plan on taking the festival throughout the coming decade. Looking forward to seeing you there.

-EXC Founders and Organizers

Last week, Bon Iver announced it would play only one summer concert in Wisconsin in 2019 — Summerfest in Milwaukee.

Monday’s announcement comes after last summer’s festival was criticized for a lackluster lineup that was kept secret from ticket-buyers until the last minute.