Downtown Menomonie: Red Cedar Film Festival gets major boost from state tourism grant

MENOMONIE, Wis.  – Menomonie’s premier film festival, the Red Cedar Film Festival, received a major boost recently when the state Department of Tourism awarded Main Street Menomonie a $4,838 grant to promote the event over four days in July.  

The Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) funding will help Main Street Menomonie expand marketing efforts for the film festival into new platforms and target markets.

Started in 2019, the Red Cedar Film Festival brings together film lovers and filmmakers for screenings of international films, documentaries, animated movies  and films with Midwestern roots and more. The festival will be held July 20-23 at The Mabel Tainter, a historic theater built in 1899.

“This generous grant from the Tourism Department will help us attract a lot of people to downtown Menomonie for this important event”, said Phil Lyons, Main Street Menomonie executive director.  “These funds will help us spread the word on our great destination, and we hope that people will take the time to explore Menomonie.”  

“Investing in the promotion of up-and-coming events helps their long-term success and supports the broader economic impact they generate for Wisconsin communities,” said Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers. “The Red Cedar Film Festival has put in grassroots work to establish itself, and, with the help of this JEM grant, I look forward to seeing how Main Street Menomonie will welcome a wider audience to experience the festival.”

Lyons said the Red Cedar Film Festival is a key piece in a series of events over that week intended to boost the city’s thriving downtown. The film festival runs July 20-24.  Also taking place that week is a major vendor fair, “Let’s Paint the Town”, which is highlighted by a free afternoon concert by national recording artist, Chris Kroeze. on July 22.  The Dunn County Fair runs from July 26-30. 

“We are working to bring as many people to downtown Menomonie as we can so they can discover what we have to offer all year,” Lyons said.

The Red Cedar Film Festival, which began at UW-Stout and evolved into a community-based event,  formally was marketed through word of mouth, personal invitations and local, no-cost advertising. Main Street Menomonie now will reach potential visitors living in Wisconsin and the Twin Cities area through print, in-person and social media advertisements.

Details about the festival are available at Ticket sales have begun.

Downtown Menomonie is a non-profit organization that works with downtown property owners and business owners to build a vibrant downtown district. Main Street Menomonie provides the resources downtown businesses need to thrive and to preserve the heritage of the historic downtown for the next generation.  A clean, well-maintained downtown attracts quality businesses, organizations and residents to the community.

As a $20.9 billion industry in Wisconsin that supports more than 169,000 jobs, tourism is crucial to the state’s economic success. JEM grants are just one of the tools in the toolbox for the Department of Tourism to partner with organizations and nonprofits around the state who are using innovation and creativity to bring visitors and dollars to their community. 

In fiscal year 2022, the Department funded 49 JEM projects, awarding $1.13 million statewide. JEM grant funds are available to nonprofit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first-year advertising and marketing costs and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining.