As farmers harvest crops this fall, professional artists from around the country, regional performers and community members will transform the working landscape around Reedsburg into a Farm/Art DTour exploring a new route through Sauk County’s farm country for the fifth-annual Fermentation Fest—A Live Culture Convergence, Oct. 2–11.
The multifaceted 10-day food and farming festival is “An opportunity for people to experience the beautiful land that sustains us through a celebration of live culture in all its forms—from dance to yogurt, poetry to sauerkraut,” explains event organizer Donna Neuwirth, executive director of the Wormfarm Institute, a nonprofit organization in Reedsburg that integrates culture and agriculture.
The city of 9,000 is preparing to welcome about 17,000 people from the upper Midwest and beyond. The Fest has burgeoned since its inception in 2011 when 4,000 visitors meandered the first Farm/Art DTour, the Fest’s signature feature.
The Farm/Art DTour’s new route is this year’s highlight. Also new are limited-edition passports with special offers to enrich DTourists’ travels encouraging exploration across the county.
The Farm/Art DTour is a free and interactive, 50-plus-mile self-guided ride through working farmland punctuated by temporary art installations, pasture performances, field notes about agriculture, food stands and roadside poetry. Discover the DTour by car, buggy or bike, cue sheets and outfitters are available.
Expect to see an illuminated circus elephant, an ethereal ghost barn, stories told in storefront windows, a quilt painted by soil microbes and much more.
Giant chimes rising out of the land become an interactive percussion instrument, jars of fermenting vegetables make music, and classes and tastings invite visitors to explore live cultures and participate.
As you wind through the natural amphitheaters of this driftless area you’ll encounter dancers, acrobats and original music, such as the fourth annual DComposition concert by acclaimed Phox musicians Matteo Roberts and Zach Johnston on Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Before the DTour, stop at the Reedsburg Area Chamber Of Commerce to get a free 20-page event guide with driving map and daily specials. The event guide is also available throughout the state.
Chefs, scientists, brewers and cheesemakers will offer more than 30 classes and tastings about fermented foods, beneficial bacteria and the rural renaissance.
Featured speakers Dan Bussey and Rachel Reynolds Luster will address apple diversity in the Midwest and ways to strengthen small communities through a sharing economy.
Bussey operated an heirloom apple orchard and cider mill in Edgerton for 24 years before becoming the orchard manager and apple historian for the Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, IA. He will talk about his work at the Seed Savers Exchange and apple diversity in the Midwest.
Luster, a folklorist, fiddler and community organizer, will lead a discussion on reviving and supporting sharing economies, a variation of the barter system. Luster’s talk will address the value of sharing resources within communities to minimize monetary expenses and strengthen social ties. She has worked with her neighbors in Oregon County, MO, to form the Oregon County Food Producers and Artisans Co-Op (OCFPAC). Luster’s interactive session will offer examples of how this view of land-based economy has worked through OCFPAC. She will engage the audience members to identify ways a sharing economy could work in their communities.
Visit www.fermentationfest.com to view images from previous years, register for classes by Oct. 2, and find details to plan your trip.
Connect with Fermentation Fest on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FermentationFest and on Twitter @FermFest.