What’s new: arts venue, football show, red panda cub, more

MILWAUKEE COUNTY ZOO PHOTO

As weather cools and beaches close, there is little reason to stay home and be bored. Check out these enticements for close-to-home travel.

Pablo Center at the Confluence, a major arts venue, has opened in downtown Eau Claire. It is near the meeting of Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers.

In the new structure are 1,200- and 400-seat theaters for the performing arts, plus free-admission galleries for regional and national visual artists.

Performances already booked include Cloud Cult, Sept. 28; Ganavy Doraiswamy, Oct. 18; Tony Jackson, Oct. 26; Ailey II, Oct.27; Kate Lindsey and Baptiste Trotignon, Nov. 1; Oak Ridge Boys, Nov. 26; Blind Boys of Alabama, Jan. 25; and Kodo Taiko, Feb. 23. pablocenter.org

Fans of the indie folk band Bon Iver, take note: A “lock inn” night with Eau Claire native Justin Vernon and bandmate Sean Carey happens Nov. 20 at The Oxbow Hotel in Eau Claire.

That means overnight lodging and an evening of curated music, food, “cultural sensibilities and the possibility of special musical guests. What guests hear is a playlist of songs selected by the musicians, who will perform at the hotel pub, The Lakely, as chef Nathan Berg prepares a six-course dinner.

Only 30 packages will be sold. This is the fourth such event at The Oxbox this year.

A new, weekly radio show in Green Bay’s Titletown District analyzes pro football game play during each week of the Green Bay Packers’ regular season.

“Lodge Kohler Kickoff” is broadcast live from 6-7 p.m. on Mondays, hosted by longtime sportscaster Bill Michaels of WSSP-FM 105.7, Milwaukee. The show takes place at Taverne in the Sky, a bar-restaurant on the fifth floor of Lodge Kohler, a hotel with panoramic views of Lambeau Field, just 100 yards away.

Michaels will provide personal commentary and interview current and former Packers. Other radio outlets that will pick up the show include WOZN-FM 96.7 in Madison.

Shows are open to the public, and reservations are advised. lodgekohler.com

The first red panda cub for Milwaukee County Zoo was born this summer and is expected to make her public debut in the next few weeks.

The unnamed cub’s birth was announced recently to coincide with International Red Panda Day this month. Red pandas are endangered globally because of deforestation, poaching and trapping. Fewer than 2,500 of the adult animals are alive.

Red pandas are solitary, only interacting to mate. Cubs born blind and stay that way for up to 31 days. So for now, this one is with her first-time mother, nicknamed Dr. E., and getting accustomed to new surroundings. milwaukeezoo.org

Early autumn is prime time for corn mazes, and that includes one on John and Julie Govin’s farm near Menomonie. The labyrinth celebrates 100 seasons of competition for the Green Bay Packers and is carved into 11 acres of corn.

Twists and turns in the maze make it more than two miles long. There are 85 decision points, and the average visitor will need one hour from start to finish.

Add a game of FSI – Farm Scene Investigation – which means collecting clues in the maze to help find Farmer Joe and solve a mystery. Or arrive at dusk on a Friday or Saturday and tackle the maze with just your flashlight.

On the farm are other diversions too. Think pumpkin and apple cannons, pig and duck races. The season ends Oct. 28. govinsfarm.com

An introduction to sporting clays and pheasant hunting is Nov. 3 at J&H Game Farm, Shiocton. This Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program includes a firearm safety review, sporting clays class and pheasant hunt with a guide and trained hunting dogs.

The ratio is three hunters per guide, and each hunter can harvest up to three birds.

BOW, which began at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and now is a national program, is a nonprofit program designed to introduce outdoor skills. uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/bowWI

Grand Hotel, on Mackinac Island in Upper Michigan, is enticing travelers with lodging discounts that get deeper when staying longer.

The seasonal resort with the world’s longest porch offers 25 percent off of the second night of lodging. Or stay two nights to get the third at a 50 percent discount. Stay three nights and get the fourth night free. The offer is subject to availability.

Upcoming special events include the Girlfriends Getaway Weekend, Oct. 12-14; Murder Mystery Weekend, Oct. 19-21; and “Somewhere in Time” Weekend, Oct. 26-28.

Grand Hotel closes for the season on Oct. 28. grandhotel.com

Airplane buffs know Oshkosh as home to AirVenture, the annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in that temporarily turns Wittman Regional Airport into the world’s busiest.

Now another major aviation event moves to the city on Lake Winnebago. About 100 pilots compete during the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships, today through Friday.

“Competition aerobatics is one of the most demanding of all air sports and requires extensive practice, planning, and precision,” says Robert Armstrong, International Aerobatic Club president. “It has often been compared to figure skating as competitors must execute maneuvers in a sequence for a panel of judges.”

Although the competition site and aircraft parking areas are closed to the public for safety reasons, consider viewing the action from the airport terminal area, which is next to the aerobatic box.

Each pilot will fly at least three routines in one of five categories: primary, sportsman, intermediate, advanced and unlimited. Top finishers in the unlimited category advance to world championships in France.

Previous national champions include EAA AirVenture air show performers, such as Rob Holland, the unlimited champ for seven consecutive years. See the event schedule at iac.org.

Until the end of October, a Room with a Brew package at Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in downtown Milwaukee includes accommodations, a selection of locally brewed beer, a map that show popular beer-drinking spots in the city and a tour of Lakefront Brewery (with complimentary transportation). journeymanhotel.com

An autumn Girlfriend Getaway Package at Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Lake Geneva, includes accommodations, massage or facial, hair blowout services, manicure or pedicure and lunchtime dining credit. The Haunted Hayride Package includes waterpark passes and haunted hayride tickets.

In Madison, the Fall for Bucky Package includes lodging at the Hilton Madison, parking and football tickets in a Camp Randall suite that provides food and beverages during the game. The hotel is a short walk from the Saturday farmers’ market that fills Capitol Square. hilton.com

Dream Dance Steak, the fine dining restaurant at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, has a new chef. He is Mark Shoup, a native of Michigan and Culinary Institute of America grad arrived in Milwaukee with 30-plus years of experience.

He aims to make subtle changes to the menu, such as offering a fish of the day. paysbig.com