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Showcasing all Wausau has to offer

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Wausau, Wisconsin: it's home to the Wisconsin Valley Fair, the Woodchucks and of course the newly-renovated 400 Block. But some in the area said the city has the potential for so much more.

"I lived in Chicago for over ten years so I did the concrete thing. I moved to New Zealand for two and a half years so I did the outdoors thing. I moved back to Chicago and I said, I miss the outdoors. Wausau has a lot of great outdoors opportunities and a great culture," said Gerald Mortensen, the creative director for Flapjack Creative.

Mortensen helped start the WhyNotWausau? festival three years ago. He said he wants to showcase the arts, the outdoors and everything else Wausau has to offer.

"It's a great way to put forth some different type of energy at different types of events that normally don't go on here," said Mortensen.

On Saturday morning, part of the group went out on the Eau Claire River to pick up trash and clean up the water.

"It's one of our favorite ones and we do it a lot so it'll be nice to clean it up a little bit," said Robert Riordan, who lives in Wausau. "Now that I've gone and come back, sometimes I have that feeling like I want to go but I still love this town. There's so much going on here. It's a beautiful place."

Group members said they want to reach out to younger people in the community -- trying to keep youth in the city after they're done with school.

"At some point in their life when they have a family, they realize what Wausau offers and the value of the area and what a great place it is to raise a family and I think they come back or at least they want to," said Don Celing, who lives in Wausau. "It's like a Leave it to Beaver life."

Organizers of this grassroots festival say they have high hopes for the city, as more people get out and enjoy the Wausau experience.

"You can do just about anything from here and we like to show off our city a little bit so that's basically the whole point of the WhyNotWausau? thing is we showcase the potential of the city and its beauty and its people," said Mortensen.

A city -- that in many people's eyes -- still has room to grow.

The WhyNotWausau? fun continues on Saturday night. An interactive art project runs until 7 PM. Then two bands will take the stage. And all the action is at the 400 Block in downtown Wausau.

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