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Wausau’s international ginseng fest postponed amid trade tensions, coronavirus

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WAUSAU — The 2020 International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival in Wausau, typically held in September, has been postponed until 2022 amid trade tensions with China and the ripple effects of coronavirus, festival organizers and city officials announced today during a press conference.

“Because the ginseng industry is heavily connected to the Chinese market, things like trade tensions and the coronavirus have ripple effects for ginseng producers in Marathon County,” said Richard Barrett, executive director for Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and Sports Authority. “Considering the current situation, along with the time and resources needed to plan each festival, we made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival.”

The festival was created to celebrate the industry and highlight the ways in which ginseng is a critical part of the economy and culture in Marathon County. It also created an opportunity for ginseng growers to bring in VIP clients from overseas and showcase their products in an exciting and fun way. The festival has been good for the ginseng industry and for tourism in Marathon County, bringing an influx of overseas visitors, primarily from China, during the 2017 and 2018 festivals.

This decision to postpone the festival was made in conjunction with leaders within the industry.

“The decision to postpone was not made lightly, but we want to be sure that every producer in Marathon County can focus their efforts and resources on strengthening and growing their business in 2020 and 2021,” Jackie Fett, executive director with the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin, said in a news release. “Postponing the festival allows us to sharpen our vision and goals, putting a greater emphasis on serving the domestic market.”

“It’s a disappointment that we can’t hold the festival this year, but we’ll be more prepared for 2022 and public safety is key first,” Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke said at the press conference. “Ginseng is very important in Marathon County and when the festival returns is will be stronger and better than ever.”

Photo courtesy Wausau/Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau. Pictured are Carly Hanney, Wausau/Central Wisconsin CVB; from left; Robert Mielke, Mayor of Wausau; Richard Barrett, Wausau/Central Wisconsin CVB; and Jackie Fett, Ginseng Board of Wisconsin.

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