International Ginseng Festival« Back to Events
Wausau is the Ginseng Capital of Wisconsin, and the first International Ginseng Festival celebrates central Wisconsin’s production of this traditional herb commonly used in tea and as an herbal supplement. It’s especially prized by buyers in China, and you’ll find it as an enhancement in energy drinks and health foods.
The cultivation of ginseng in Marathon County goes back to the Fromm brothers, who in the early 1900s started farming ginseng to help pay for the silver foxes they were raising, said Lisa Berry, the sales director of the Wausau/Central Wisconsin Visitors and Convention Bureau. The brothers went on to establish an internationally known fur business, and as their business grew, so did the cultivation of ginseng in Marathon County. The soil and the climate make central Wisconsin one of the world’s best places to produce the root, which must grow for four years before harvest.
Local breweries including Bull Falls Brewery will make special ginseng brews.
The International Ginseng Festival takes place over three days, September 15-17, 2017, at downtown Wausau’s 400 Block city square park, ginseng fields throughout the county and the historic site of the Fromm farm in Hamburg, where ginseng was first cultivated in Wisconsin. Festival attendees will receive maps and programs outlining the schedule of activities.
The festival covers a wide variety of ginseng-related topics, including agricultural, culinary, educational, historical, arts and entertainment aspects all showcased. The International Ginseng Festival will also feature multicultural aspects, as the Hmong and Native American communities have significant influences on ginseng production. Here are some of activities that will take place during the festival:
Downtown Wausau’s 400 Block City Square Park Events:
- 400 Block vendors selling a variety of ginseng food and beverages.
- Traditional Hmong and Native American foods.
- Wisconsin favorites including cheese curds and brats.
- Entertainment on the main stage including music and
- Wausau Children’s Museum-Interactive Ginseng Field Exhibit with Partners for Progressive Agriculture Marathon County
- 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 International Ginseng Festival Activities Off-Site from the 400 Block:
Dig It, Keep It! Dig Your Own Root:
Hsu’s Ginseng Farm (4707 McIntosh St, Wausau, WI 54403)
Sept. 16, 1:00-3:00 pm
Heil Ginseng Field (2670 Hwy H, Edgar, WI 54426)
Sept. 15, 3:00-5:00 pm
Sept. 16, 11:00 am-1:00 pm
Sept. 17, 12:00-2:00 pm
Commemorative coins and an opportunity to sign the vintage log book of visitors at the 45×90 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 at Fromm Farm (436 Co Rd F, Hamburg, WI 54411), where ginseng farming in Wisconsin began; Sept. 16, Noon-4:00 pm
- 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.
Arts & Entertainment:
Festival poster art contest by the Center for the Visual Arts will take place in advance of the festival. Stop in before 2:00 pm on Sept. 16 and cast your vote for The People’s Choice!
View the Ginseng: The Treasured Root exhibit at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum from September 9 – November 26, 2017. This exhibit features drawings and watercolors focused on ginseng from Midwest botanical artists.
Visit the World Renowned Birds in Art Exhibit 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; Sept. 16 & 17
5K Ginseng Root Run at Veterans Park, Marathon City (204 E 4th St, Marathon City, WI 54448); Sept. 16, 10:00 am. Sign up here.
Kayaking at downtown Wausau’s championship White Water Park through the Wausau Kayak & Canoe Corp. recreational release program.
View the fall colors on the Comet Chairlift Rides at Granite Peak Ski Area, free for festival-goers; Sept. 16, 10:00 am-2:00 pm.
Other International Ginseng Festival Places to Note:
After you’ve sampled festival foods and beverages, stay downtown and check out the wonderful establishments around the 400 Block. Watch the store and restaurant windows for Festival Goer specials.
Also, see the Wausau World Market, a west-side marketplace with diverse entrepreneurs selling produce, goods, and cultural items all under one roof at 828 S. Third Ave, Wausau, Daily 8:00 am–7:00 pm
Hmong Museum in the Wausau Center Mall – Stop in and enjoy their “From Laos to America” exhibit honoring the refugee experience.
1st Annual Antique Tractor, Steam, Equipment and Parts Swap Meet – Hosted by North Central WI Antique Steam & Gas Engine Club, Inc.
Club Showgrounds (W4255 Hilldale Drive, Edgar, WI 54426)
Sept 15, 8:00 am–12:00 pm
Sept 16, 12:00–5:00 pm
Marathon City Heritage Center – Marathon City is the center of where ginseng growing began! Displays at the Marathon City Heritage Center will feature equipment, artifacts and photos from area ginseng growers, past and present! Come visit and share your story with us!
301 Main St, Marathon City, WI 54448
Open special hours on Saturday, Sept 16 / 10:00 am–12:00 pm
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.