In The News

Thank You!

We wish to thank all those who helped make Fermentation Fest a great success again this year bringing thousands of people to the Reedsburg area including a film crew from the Smithsonian!

On behalf of the Wormfarm Institute I wish to thank: The City of Reedsburg Parks Department and Sauk County UW Extension for providing significant support. We are grateful to our funders: The National Endowment for the Arts, The Wisconsin Arts Board, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Reedsburg Area United Fund, UW Extension Arts and Culture Committee, the City of Reedsburg Room Tax Commission, the Hegner Family Foundation and the Educational Foundation of America.  A special thanks to The John Michael Kohler Art Center for use of the Culinary Art Car.

We would also like to thank our major sponsors:  Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Cricket Design Works. Additional event sponsors include: Lands’ End, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Vintage Brewing and Water House Foods. Thanks to Kristine Koenecke and the Reedsburg Area Chamber of Commerce for acting as the Fermentation Fest Headquarters again this year and to the Reedsburg Revitalization Organization and Reedsburg ArtsLink for their support.

We are grateful to the Reedsburg Independent, Reedsburg Times Press, Baraboo News Republic, and WRDB for spreading the word and to all of our advertisers and fabulous Food Chain vendors.

Special tribute goes to all those who allowed the use of their space for classrooms and events including, Dietz Kitchen Gallery, Warehouse Row, Avalon ballroom, LK Designs, Vault Wine Bar and the City of Reedsburg. And to the instructors who came from as far as Oaxaca Mexico with a super special thank you to Lou Bank of S.A.C.R.E.D for organizing.

Big thanks to Pete Petersen and Corner Pub for huge help with the beer tent, Shawndell Marks and SoulSong Productions for the use of stage and equipment, Beth Persche for the beautiful mosaic archways, fence posts and more; and to Peter Krsko for the beer fence. Thanks to Ray Cummings from Citetek for providing technical support and to the Dietz family for countless acts of skill and kindness. Our sincere thanks to a very long list of volunteers organized by Marti Prorok who hosted classes, installed and de-installed art works, housed class instructors, put up signs, and more – they are too numerous to mention.

Finally thank you to the Wormfarm Board of Directors, the amazing staff and resident artists for their tireless work and inspiration over the past year.  And to all who participated in or contributed to this live culture convergence over the ten months it takes each year to bring it to life. We hope to see you all next year with the return of the Farm/Art DTour.


Donna Neuwirth

Executive Director, Wormfarm Institute

Reedsburg Welcomes The Smithsonian

A video crew from the Smithsonian will be in town this Saturday and Sunday filming in preparation for a new exhibit being created called Crossroads: Change in Rural America.

In 2010 Wormfarm hosted a traveling exhibit through the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street Program that was key in launching Fermentation Fest, not knowing at the time how big and multifaceted the event would become.

The exhibition Crossroads: Change in Rural America will spark spirited conversations about the future across the country. The Smithsonian will focus on the words and actions of rural Americans telling their own stories of the changes that have shaped their communities by collecting stories from host states via its Stories from Main Street project. People interested in rural communities will be able to share stories through a web-based story collection campaign. A touchscreen computer kiosk included with the exhibition will offer visitors a chance to hear the experiences of people throughout the country.

The project will also embrace the notion of creative placemaking by providing a set of tools developed through partnerships with national and state organizations to help communities explore their past to decide what is most important about their towns and how to use it to preserve the future.

State humanities councils participating in the project will play an integral role in facilitating these conversations and helping communities connect exhibitions and programmatic initiatives to a statewide initiative on civic engagement about the future of rural communities.

Look out for the Smithsonian on October 14 and 15!


Wormfarm Resident Artist Show
Friday Oct 13, 5 – 6 pm
Featuring work from current and recent artists in residence: Zoe Craig, George Jones, Sarah Kaiser, Hannah Smith, Janell Tryon, Cleo van der Veen

Poetry and Pints
Friday Oct 13, 6:30 -7:30 pm
Former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will read from his new poetry collection, The Word We Used for It, winner of the Brittingham Prize for Poetry. Max will be available for a book signing following his reading.

Artist Talk: Woody Leslie
Saturday Oct 14 4-5PM
Woolen Mill Gallery 28 East Main St., 2nd floor
Woody Leslie will give a talk about his current art installation in City Park
Fermented Words is a series of one-word poems thematically based on vegetables, farming, and fermentation. At their base, they are about the consideration of words—the way words look, seem, and mean. But like any ferment, what comes out is richer than the original ingredients that went in.
Woody Leslie is a writer, cook, and bookmaker based in Iowa City, who publishes work under the imprint of Large Home Tiny Idea. He was a 2017 artist-in-residence at the Wormfarm.

A Collaboration with John Michael Kohler Art Center

Wormfarm Institute is honored to welcome the Culinary Art Car to Reedsburg during Fermentation Fest – its first voyage beyond Sheboygan! The Culinary Art Car will host a rotation of great chefs over the two weekends of Fermentation Fest at the City Park Food Chain.

“Fermentation Fest captures all motivations for the existence for the Culinary Art Car. A sculptural work created in residency by San Francisco artist Mac Maker, and a food truck with the mission to explore the eat local movement while raising awareness of the challenges some people face in bringing nourishing food to the table. John Michael Kohler Arts Center is excited to be part of such an exciting and creative event as Fermentation Fest.”

Craig Grabhorn, Community Arts Residency Coordinator,

This live culture convergence goes beyond the kitchen 

Although there will be not Farm/Art DTour this year, there will still be plenty of art, music and poetry in Reedsburg’s City Park. Food Chain – a Marketplace of Fermented Food, Art, Beer and Ideas will be the place to eat, drink and connect with other fermenters. The Fermé Lab, will offer quick demo’s on the hour and UW Food Science Club will offer the chance to look closely at the microorganisms behind the Fermentation Process.

For those who want to get a bit closer to the farms where many of the ferments begin, the new Hill and Valley Exploration Tour responds to the growing appetite for this area’s scenic agricultural landscape.

Mezcal – Ancient Spirits, New Believers

Our friend Lou Bank , a favorite fermenter and co-presenter for our two mezcal events, introduces his love affair with agave spirits…..


I thought I understood how to make liquor. I had, after all, launched the craft distillery for Rogue Ales back in 2003. But Eduardo Angeles opened my eyes to a whole different spirits world, and changed my life in the process. And it was not the last time that Lalo — as his friends call him — would do so.

By the time my wife and I visited Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2008, I had been drinking mezcal for three years. But it was an interest, not a passion. You have interests, right? Things you do, that you like doing, but that you know will one day be eclipsed by something else? And you’ll wind up tossing those dusty jars of artisanal mustards to make room for your new interest in bottle-conditioned beers? That’s what mezcal was for me.

But on that theoretical one-and-done trip to Oaxaca, I met maestro (master)  mezcalero Lorenzo Angeles, the Don of the family behind Mezcal Real Minero (a brand). We’d tasted Real Minero the evening before, and it was an epiphany — so much more complex and rich and delicious than anything available back home. The maestro invited us to visit his palenque (distillery) for a tour. We had no time, we told him, so he said we would have to visit when we returned.

We never imagined we’d go back, but kept Don Lorenzo’s contact information … just in case. And good thing we did, because as much as we loved Real Minero when we tasted it in Oaxaca, our appreciation grew as we drank it back home. That’s the thing about artisanal mezcals: they’re so complex that it takes a while for your palate to truly understand what it is tasting.

Once enlightened, we made arrangements to go back and visit Don Lorenzo. Now, I’ve been on plenty of distillery tours — I know the formula. You get the 45-minute walk-and-talk, followed by a 15-minute tasting. So I figured I knew what I was in for when we arrived in Santa Catarina Minas, a rural community some 45 minutes southeast of Oaxaca City.

We were there for eight hours — eight hours! — with Don Lorenzo’s son, Eduardo, himself a maestro who shared the responsibility of making the family mezcal with his father.

Those eight hours changed the trajectory of my life. It was on that tour that I saw the oddest still I’d ever seen, a brick-and-clay contraption that looked like one of those backyard “fireplaces” called chimeneas dropped into a wood-fired pizza oven. How did they come up with this? I wondered. And a few days later I had my answer.

I was wandering through used bookstores in Mexico City when I found a set of farmers’ guides from 1849. Paging through the books, I came to the section on distillation, and in that section I found … a blueprint for the very still I had seen at the palenque. They hadn’t invented this odd still — they were using technology that was 150 years old. Or older! Was this state-of-the-art in 1849?

That revelation was just the tip of the iceberg for me. After years of learning from Lalo Angeles, and years of hosting tastings of agave spirits at Fermentation Fest as a way to introduce everyone to Lalo’s brilliance, I’m excited to be able to finally introduce everyone to Lalo himself, so you can appreciate still more of that iceberg. He started his own palenque a few years back, producing spirits under the brands Lalocura and Sacapalabras (not yet available in the US, though should be within a year). Lalo will pour you his eye-opening spirits; share how they are made; and explain  how they are improving the quality of life in his small community in rural Mexico.

Please join us for the mezcal dinner on Saturday evening, or the mezcal tasting on Sunday afternoon, to taste the genius of Lalo Angeles; toast his father, Lorenzo, who passed last year; to strengthen ties to our brilliant neighbors to the south and to ignite your own passion for mezcal!

Lou Bank, S.A.C.R.E.D

The White House Rural Council

Our work was included in the results published by the US Department of Agriculture on October 4. Read the article here (scroll down – just over half way for our mention!).

Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) interviewed our two featured speakers, Sandor Katz and Peter Reinhart  prior to Fermentation Fest 2016. These interviews can be heard by following the links above.


Lou Bank spoke to WORT ahead of his Agave Dinner at Fermentation Fest 2016, listen again here


The National Geographic featured Erin Schneider’s work, Soil Quilt which was part of Fermentation Fest 2015. Read here


An interview with Wormfarm Founders, Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas, read here


Listen to Joshua Pablo Rosenstock’s Fermentaphone here

Americans for the Arts

Member Spotlights, read here

Non Profit Quarterly

Article by John Godfrey, read here

The American Scholar

Article by Chloe Taft, read here


United States Department of Agriculture’s Blog features Fermentation Fest. Read here

Art City Online Journal

An online journal about visual art, the urban landscape and design visited Fermentation Fest. Read here

The New York Times Travel Blog

New York Times travel blog story about the Fest as a destination weekend: A Celebration of Fermentation. Read it here.

To the Best of Our Knowledge

Download or stream this interview with Fermentation Fest from November, 2013.

Wisconsin Foodie

Television show promoting Wisconsin’s culinary traditions visits Fermentation Fest.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: A primer on perfect peaches

Story about the Nikkiko Masumoto, her family and the perfect peach. Read it here.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Wisconsin embraces fermentation craze

The fermentation craze in Wisconsin. Read it here.

Mary Janes’s Cluck Magazine, Summer 2012

Summer 2012

Article in the summer issue of Mary Jane’s Cluck magazine.

Download a pdf copy of the article here.

Bubbling Up, Wisconsin Academy

Summer 2012

Detailed article about the Fermentation Fest in the Wisconsin Academy’s online magazine. Read it here.

Grow Magazine

Summer 2012

Article in the summer issue of Grow magazine.

Download a pdf copy of the article here.

Public Art Review

Spring/Summer 2012

An article about the Fest and the Farm/Art DTour in<br/. Public Art Review.

Download a pdf of the article here.