Ginseng delay

(First published in the February 28, 2019 issue of City Pages)

No event this year: The International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival will now run bi-annually


The first Ginseng Fest in 2017 was a huge hit but now will be held every other year.

The Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau confirmed this week that their International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival will not be held in 2019.

The festival debuted in 2017, and was considered such a roaring success that it was immediately scheduled again for 2018, even though initially there was thought about making it an every other year festival. The website for the Ginseng Festival lists the next event as Sept. 18-20 of 2020.

The International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival drew visitors from around the world, especially China, and signs used throughout Marathon County during the weekend included text in English and Mandarin to help Chinese visitors navigate. The festival was featured on an episode of Discover Wisconsin.

Ginseng Fest Event Director Rebecca Bratton says that 2018’s festival had roughly the same attendance as 2017, though the heat that weekend kept many people indoors and away from the outdoor activities. Allowing more time to organize the festival puts less strain on vendors and on ginseng growers, since the festival occurs right during a busy part of the season for those farmers, Bratton says. “Deciding to make it a bi-annual festival, having a year in between, would allow us to have the momentum to make it bigger,” she says. “There won’t be such a crunch time to find vendors, and will allow others to get involved.”

While the heat may have kept attendance at the outdoor portion of the festivities sparse during the day, adding longer hours to the evening entertainment proved successful, Bratton says.