The 1st annual International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival rolled through Wausau, WI and the surrounding area just one month ago, but we are still amazed at how it impacted our area and the industry. Here are the 10 things we learned after the event:
- People are thrilled to dig their own roots. Yes, that’s right, nearly 150 people over the course of two hours were able to partake in their own ritual, dubbed the “Dig Your Own Root” event. Here we armed some new friends with a dinner fork, a bag and some encouragement to find a big one. They each carefully extracted a single four-year-old root and took them home as a keepsake. This was the first time Hsu’s let folks enter the gardens with the intention to take a root for themselves and everyone was very respectful and thankful.
- You would never guess who was more careful and successful at digging their own root. Hint, it’s women. Women were far superior in digging their roots without damaging the plants, roots, prongs, and even the tiny fibers on the roots’ ends. This comes as no surprise to us because women are known to be much more patient than men, but next year we hope to see the men pick up some of the slack!
- Ice cream and ginseng? Why not? NTC’s Culinary department was gracious enough to resurrect their famed ginseng ice cream thanks to Chef Travis Teska. Visitors of the festival grabbed free cones on their way in and out of the 400 Block of Wausau. It was a huge hit with the crowd.
- Hats off to the Wausau Convention and Visitor’s Bureau where all credit is due. It took two years of careful planning — permits, safety plans, budgeting, grants and sheer will — to get this project off the ground. As one of the many functioning cogs in the machine, we are grateful to have one central body who could handle making all the parts come together. To take a quote right out of ‘Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come”.
- Wausau has some very talented professional music and performance groups. If you happened to hang out on or near the 400 Block in Wausau during the festival, you would have been fortunate to witness music and dance of multiple disciplines. Nearly all popular music genres were represented. Hmong and Native American (Hochunk) dance routines were featured on Sunday. Hsu’s sponsored an authentic Dragon Dance crew from Chicago to perform traditional dances on the 400 Block as well as their private party on Saturday night.
- Vendors got very creative with their ginseng pairings. Ginseng beer, ginseng soda, ginseng pizza and ginseng burgers were the talk of the town. Personal favorite: The Mint Cafe‘s Ginseng Iced Tea cold brew. Nothing hit the spot more during that 85 degree Saturday than the Mint’s deliciously sweet tea featuring our own American Ginseng Tea. A close second for me was Milwaukee Burger’s ‘Ginseng Burger’. The secret is in the sauce, akin to a sweet and sour glaze with a hint of ginseng.
- You could (and we mean that sparingly) get a little buzzed off ginseng. Even though we practice safe driving habits and respect all local and national laws regarding drinking adult beverages, we have to admit that it was hard to only enjoy one (1) Bull Falls ‘Made in the Shade’ craft brew, made with real Hsu’s ginseng and a smoked peach tea from Redwood Street Roasters in Edgar, WI. If you HAVE to enjoy these special craft brews make sure you are doing it safely and have driving arrangements if you find yourself ‘made in the shade’.
- People are still amazed at the Fromm Brothers’ story. We learned that over 500 people took the hourly Fromm tours from 12:00 – 4:00 PM on Saturday the 16th. Ginseng growers in Marathon County owe a lot to the pioneers of cultivated American ginseng. It’s great to see the Fromm Bros. Historical Preservation Society opening the farm again for their fans.
- There aren’t enough hours in a day. Hsu’s staffed all of their Enterprise employees for the festival (over 50) and some of their Hsu Growing Supply and farm staff. Despite being fully staffed, with the addition of private guests we entertained all weekend we could have hired 20 more people! Don’t confuse this as a complaint, rather us counting our blessings.
- We can’t wait until next year! Having no previous experience with a festival of this magnitude, we had no idea that we would have this much fun celebrating our yearly efforts to provide our fans with clean Wisconsin-grown American ginseng. If you were able to visit us at our booth or in our gardens, thank you. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year for the 2nd Annual International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival!
- Bonus: Wausau could really use its own Chinatown district. Because who doesn’t love genuine food and goods at the hands of those skilled in the authenticity of true Chinese culture?
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.