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World’s First International Ginseng Festival Planned For Wausau Area

Marathon County Produces 90 Percent Of U.S. Ginseng

Joe Heil’s ginseng farm near Edgar in Marathon County in October, 2010.
WPR/Glen Moberg

The world’s first international ginseng festival is being planned for September 2017 in Marathon County, which produces 90 percent of the ginseng grown in the country.

Organizer Lisa Berry said the International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival in the Wausau area will draw attention to the quality of the regional crop, most of which is exported to Asian markets.

“We are going to have all kinds of ginseng products, including beverages for people to taste, cooking demonstrations for people to learn how to cook with ginseng, entertainment, tours, and vendors,” Berry said. “And we’re expecting a lot of Asian tourists, a lot of people from across the country.”

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Those who attend will be able to go into the fields and dig up their own ginseng roots, Berry said.

“This is a crop that takes four to five years to harvest,” Berry said. “It can only be grown on the same plot of land every 30 years, so it’s a very special crop. And you go out there, you’ll be able to take a little scoop, and find a root for yourself.”

The Wausau Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau is making bilingual signs in Mandarin Chinese and English for the three-day festival from Sept. 15-17, 2017.

The festival will take place downtown Wausau with the tours, demonstrations and other activities offered at other area locations, according to the festival’s website.

Shuttle buses will take visitors to the Fromm Brothers historical farm site where wild ginseng was first cultivated 100 years ago. The festival will also feature product demonstrations, entertainment, and a Harley-Davidson rally.

In 2014, the Wisconsin ginseng crop was worth $52 million.