Downtown Wausau dining

New Summertime Events Celebrate Community, Creativity and Craft Beer

May 11, 2023

Memorial Day weekend is almost here as Downtown Wausau gears up for the start of summer ‘23. Exciting new events are hitting the scene, according to Blake Opal-Wahoske, Wausau River District executive director.


There’s nothing quite like the energy of a bustling marketplace, especially at night. Making its debut this summer is the Night Market, a celebration of community and creativity. It will feature a mix of local makers, farmers and food, with live music, sidewalk dining and extended hours for popular businesses. The monthly event takes place on June 15, July 20, and August 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Night Market will feature 24 makers stationed on part of the 400 Block of downtown, where visitors can also purchase beer from a local stand. From handmade jewelry to fresh produce, shoppers will find various items showcasing Wausau’s best.


Artist working at Chalkfest on 400 block downtown WausauAnother new event brewing this season is the Summer Ale Trail. Participants can purchase tickets at participating downtown stores to sample beer at select locations along the route. A trolley for safe rides to the district’s West side will be available. It takes place on Friday, June 23, followed by Sidewalk Sales on June 24, and coincides with the 20th annual Chalkfest Wausau.


Some of the area’s most popular festivities are returning, including Concerts on the SquareDining on the Street, Chalkfest Wausau and Jazz on the River.


Dining Outside at the Mint CafeVisitors to downtown Wausau can enjoy Third Street’s outdoor dining options, including Lemongrass, Jalapeno’s, Townies, The Mint Café and Prima Deli, with the option to grab lunch and picnic on the 400 Block. With the convenience of the Passport Parking app, finding a parking spot downtown has never been easier and the first two hours are free. Parking is also free in the evenings after 6 p.m. and on weekends.

Opal-Wahoske reports that events are designed to bring more people downtown. “We want to create an atmosphere where people can come down, have a beer, enjoy some live music and art, and support our local businesses together,” he said.

The Wausau River District promotes economic development and revitalization in downtown Wausau. The organization has been working hard to plan and organize events to strengthen connections between people and places. “It’s vital that we invest here because what happens downtown has a ripple effect throughout the entire region,” said Opal-Wahoske.


Music on the Streets in downtown WausauThe River District recently won awards for its outstanding work promoting diversity and inclusion and preserving Wausau’s rich cultural heritage. “Through their various initiatives, the River District is creating a welcoming space that is inclusive and representative of all its residents,” said Dave Eckmann, president of Wausau Opportunity Zone, Inc.

Advocating for residential housing needs is a key tenet of the River District’s mission. With more workers opting to work remotely in recent years, there has been an increased demand for housing in downtown areas, allowing people to be closer to city amenities. “From 2019 to 2022, peak travel volume decreased by 33%, and total traffic counts in downtown areas decreased by 23%,” said Opal-Wahoske. “This suggests there are fewer residents to support the daytime economy.”

To address this issue, a long-term plan to get approximately 3,000 more people living in and around the area includes The Foundry on 3rd and SCS Riverlife North developments, two vital pieces of the housing puzzle. “Consumers are eager for downtown housing. Our office fields numerous calls each week from people looking for apartments,” said Opal-Wahoske.

Lukas Lindner ChamberLukas Lindner, workforce development and advocacy director for the Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce, is one of those individuals anticipating more urban housing options. He believes they help create vibrant, walkable communities that are attractive to residents and businesses and give young professionals more reasons to stay in the Wausau area. “Housing developments like The Foundry on 3rd benefit many people in my shoes,” he said. “Everybody’s talking about retaining their talent and attracting new talent, but people are struggling to find places to live, and they’re struggling to find reasons to stay. We love this community and want to be part of its future.”

Refreshing changes are happening in Downtown Wausau. Make sure to sign up for regular emails at, and for more information, email

Wausau Opportunity Zone, Inc. (WOZ) is leading the charge to inform Greater Wausau of progress made during the development phases of Downtown Wausau. WOZ is collaborating with Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership, local governments, businesses and organizations to involve and engage the community. Wausau is the place to be this season with Concerts on the Square, Dining on the Street and 400 Block events and festivals.

Photo credits to Downtown River District and Lukas Lindner