Connection and community are served alongside sauerkraut at the Reedsburg Fermentation Fest.
|The fall colors of Sauk County|
The participants for this class had come from Chicago, Milwaukee, and many small towns near Reedsburg, Wisconsin. They’d come with the awareness that they would be learning to ferment vegetables. I, however, had arrived the day before from my home in southern Oregon and had no idea what to expect from the Wormfarm Institute’s Fermentation Fest.
From the event’s website I knew that I was headed to “A Live Cultural Convergence.” I sensed it was bigger than a celebration of grapes to wine, milk to cheese, and, in my case, veggies to kraut. Yet in my mind it was still like holding onto the proverbial slippery fish. I understood that this celebration was about cultivating a rural economy and connecting people with farms and their food, and that the underlying theme was art, but I couldn’t visualize how it pieced together. Now that I have been to the Fermentation Fest, I recognize it as an opportunity to choose your own (fermentation) adventure.
The bones of the fest really lie in public art installations, food carts, entertainment venues, and educational stops along the Farm/Art D’Tour, a 50-mile loop over an idyllic autumnal countryside. Classes, speakers, and events dispersed throughout the town of Reedsburg punctuate this route.
On Saturday and Sunday morning my aromatic wares and I met many people — confident, seasoned fermentistas as well as people tasting fresh fermented veggies for the first time. My ferments and I made new friends. On Sunday afternoon I had time to take the D’Tour, and that’s when I ultimately put it all together.
|Too Much Pig by Brian Sobaski, St. Paul, MN. This massive straw wild swine is one of two representing the invasive species encroaching on the farmlands of southwestern and central Wisconsin.|
|Sylvan Chapel by Peter Krsko, Washington, DC. Live wood and harvested wood blend to create a sacred space along the roadside.|
|This last stop was created by Vierbicher and Friede & Associates, located on a third-generation farm owned by Steve and Gail Schulenburg.|
Photos by Kirsten K. Shockey