The cultivation of ginseng in Marathon County began in the late 1800s, but has been used by eastern cultures for healing purposes for thousands of years. Marathon County is the nation’s ginseng capital and exports 95% of the ginseng nationwide, due to its unique rolling hills, virgin soil and cool summers. This is all worth celebrating, thus, the International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival was born. Here are just a few things to do when attending the September festival:
- No good festival is complete without crowning a queen! Attend the festival’s opening ceremony, where the official Ginseng Queen is crowned.
- Try the unique, ginseng-infused foods that the festival has to offer. You can find everything from Ginseng ice cream (yum!) and Ginseng almonds, to cheese curds and burgers. Last year, Northcentral Technical College’s Culinary Arts program hosted the ice cream tent, which featured a ginseng, cardamom and clove ice cream made from scratch with Wisconsin cream and milk.
- After eating your way through the festival, quench your thirst with unique beverages, such as Ginseng-infused wine, beer, soda and coffee. The soda was made with ginseng, cranberries and cherries – a few of Wisconsin’s main crops. What more could you need?
- Festivities are happening all across the city! Stop in at Monk Gardens for a cooking demonstration, where you’ll learn to make things like wood-fired chicken with ginseng lemongrass broth.
- Know much about ginseng? Tour a ginseng farm to learn how it grows, what it’s used for, and its health benefits, and then pick your very own ginseng root! Visitors can check out how the root is grown, harvested, and processed on local farms.
- Many people, even residents of Marathon County, don’t realize how big of a market ginseng is and how unique it is to central Wisconsin. To learn more, pop in to the Marathon County Historical Society for a ginseng history lesson!
- Rib Mountain peaks at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level and 741 feet above the local terrain. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the festival, and take in the incredible view of Wausau from Rib Mountain. It’s gorgeous, especially during the fall.
Photo by Christy Kirsch Fischer
- Peruse the festival’s poster contest at the Center for Visual Arts, where you’ll find everything from computer graphics and digital illustration to watercolors and pastels, all done by local artists and available for purchase!
- Take in the festival’s performances, featuring everything from acoustic to lively cover bands to Native American dancers, all creating a high-energy, fun atmosphere.
- Talk with festival-goers and learn where they’re from. The festival draws tourists from around the world, and the root and its products have an impact on locals as well! Ginseng impacts the local economy and culture, and the Wausau area has put Wisconsin on the map for people across the globe.
Will you be attending the second annual International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival? Head to Marathon County September 14-16, 2018!