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The festival will take place over three days, September 15, 16, 17, 2017 at downtown Wausau’s 400 Block city square park and along adjoining streets. Additionally, a variety of tours, demonstrations and other activities will be offered at several locations throughout the area, with shuttle buses transporting attendees to the many off-site attractions. Festival attendees will receive maps and programs outlining the schedule of activities along with punch cards to encourage them to explore the off-site activities and to be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a variety of prizes.
This multi-faceted event will have broad appeal, with agricultural, culinary, educational, historical, arts and entertainment aspects being showcased. The festival will also feature multicultural aspects, as the Hmong and Native American communities have significant influences on ginseng production. By working closely with the Native American liaison as well as the local Hmong American Center, the festival will incorporate elements such as traditional dance, foods, and the history of ginseng within their cultures. Outlined are the variety of activities that will take place during the festival:
DOWNTOWN WAUSAU’S 400 BLOCK CITY SQUARE PARK
MAIN EVENT LOCATION:
+ Food, wine, beer, tea and other beverages that will incorporate ginseng as an ingredient.
+ Traditional Hmong and Native American foods.
+ Wisconsin favorites including cheese curds and brats.
+ Entertainment on the main stage including music & other performances.
+ Juried vendors with art and items for purchase.
+ Hands on activities for children relating to ginseng.
+ Downtown shops and restaurants will participate with special offers and ginseng related food and beverages.
ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES - OFF SITE LOCATIONS:
+ Guided ginseng field tours and a “pick-your-own” ginseng root experience.
+ Commemorative coins and an opportunity to sign the vintage log book of visitors at the 45x90 Geographic Marker. It is the location of the 45th parallel; the exact point half-way between the Equator and the North Pole and half-way between the Greenwich Meridian and the International Dateline. Geographically, it is a location of significance to ginseng cultivation, as the climate and area geology are key components.
HISTORICAL EXHIBITS, TOURS & MORE:
+ Exhibit showcasing the evolution of ginseng in Marathon County at the Marathon County Historical Museum.
+ Historical reenactment and tours at Fromm Farm, showcasing the history and beginnings of ginseng cultivation in Wisconsin.
+ Event at Janke Book Store featuring the book "Bright With Silver,” which chronicles the rise of the United States ginseng industry through the story of the Fromm brothers.
+ Tours atop Rib Mountain State Park, the location that inspired four Fromm brothers as they surveyed Marathon County from above and developed their plans to cultivate ginseng.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT:
+ Festival poster art contest by the Center for the Visual Arts will take place in advance of the festival. An exhibit of the contest entries will be added in ongoing years.
+ Title performance at the Grand Theater the night prior to the festival and marketed as the festival’s “kick-off.”
+ Botanical exhibition on loan from the Heinz Museum in Pennsylvania at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.
SEMINARS & DEMONSTRATIONS:
+ Cooking with ginseng demonstrations at Robert W. Monk Gardens in the outdoor catering kitchen and tours featuring the wild ginseng that is grown in the gardens.
+ Seminars at UW-Marathon County featuring speaker Dr. Mary Hausbeck, who contributed to a Mayo Clinic Cancer Center-led study proving ginseng was effective in reducing cancer-related fatigue.
+ 5K Run between the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin and Ginseng & Herb Co-Op locations with refreshments and entertainment.
+ Kayaking at downtown Wausau’s championship White Water Park through the Wausau Kayak & Canoe Corp. recreational release program.
+ Comet Chairlift Rides at Granite Peak Ski Area exclusively for festival-goers to view the fall colors.
+ Fun Ride and entertainment at Harley-Davidson of Wausau in conjunction with the Tomahawk Fall Colors Ride.
History of Ginseng in Marathon County
Ginseng cultivation began in the late 1800s at the turn of the 20th century in Marathon County by the Fromm Brothers, but has been used in eastern cultures for its healing properties for over 5,000 years. Today, the capital of the United States ginseng industry is in Marathon County, Wisconsin. There are over 185 ginseng producers in the county and 95% of the ginseng root exported from the United States comes from Central Wisconsin. The rolling hills, virgin soil and cool summers grow unique roots very high in ginsenosides (the active compound in ginseng). These properties make Wisconsin ginseng known as the premier cultivation in the world. As you drive around Marathon County in the warm weather seasons, you’ll see tarp-covered fields protecting ginseng plants from direct sunlight. The berries turn red in August and are harvested in September. The roots are harvested in October and are used in a variety of products including health and beauty products, teas, beverages, candies and much more. The recent resurgence in the interest of ginseng has created great demand in this ever-evolving market of the crop.
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