Skogen family thankful to give back

Family plans to build park, restaurant in Onalaska

Skogen family thankful to give back

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) - Downtown Onalaska is about to get a big makeover, thanks to Festival Foods founders Dave and Barb Skogen.

The family is working on creating a park and restaurant on the corner of Second Avenue South and Main Street in downtown Onalaska.

They say it's all a part of giving back to the community -- the place where they grew up and still call home.

For decades, Barb and Dave Skogen have been building, gathering places of fresh food.

"Providing safe food, a clean store, friendly people,” Dave Skogen said.

But now in their 70s, they're looking to build a new gathering place of a different kind right in the heart of Onalaska.

"Why don't we do something for the city, for the community? Give back while we're alive and well and can enjoy it,” Dave Skogen said.

The Skogens' plans call for green space, as well as a small restaurant, where people can enjoy the Black River.

"That seems like that should be a park -- not retail,” Dave Skogen said. “A park where people can relax and enjoy, share stories and build community."

They hope the project becomes a place of community gatherings.

"We see an art fair maybe, maybe a Christmas market,” Dave Skogen said.

"Everyone is excited. We just hope the end result is exciting. I think it will be,” Barb Skogen said.

And like their signature Boomerang Prinicple, they're hoping what goes into the park will get people to come back.

"We always say in our stores that we want people to say to us, 'I just like what happens to me when I go into one of your stores.' We want them to say the same thing when they walk into this park,” Dave Skogen said.

While the project itself is something new, the Skogens hope to use the same old principle that has made their business so successful.

"It's a different vocation, but when you think about our higher purpose is to serve and enrich people's lives, this park is going to serve and enrich people's lives for years and years to come,” Dave Skogen said.

The project sits on a known Native American burial site, which means the Skogens need to get a special permit from the Wisconsin Historical Society to continue with the it.

They hope the project will be complete by this fall.

They also plan on placing a statue of a Native American and a logger by spring of next year.

The Skogens estimate the project will cost around $2.5 million.

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