Matt and I attended Fermentation Fest for the first time this past week. We learned a good deal and really enjoyed connecting with others who have a genuine interest in fermentation.
Fermentation Fest is annual event held in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Though they haven’t yet announced final attendance numbers, this years festival was expected to draw in over 25,000 people from around the world. The nine day festival has a huge line up of workshops and speakers as well as a Farm/Art DTour and a Fabulous Fermented Feast dinner event.
We kicked off our Fermentation Fest experience by listening to the famous Sandor Katz speak on The Art of Fermentation. Katz is considered an expert in the world of fermentation and is the author of two books on the subject: The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation.
Katz spoke for an hour and a half on a wide range of topics related to fermentation. He covered types of fermentation, methods and shared tips and tricks for finding success in your fermentation experiments. For me the highlights were the personal stories he shared. My favorite was when asked about sauerkraut methodology in which he responded that he has only ever had one batch of sauerkraut not be edible in his years of experience. As it would turn out, the cabbage used in this particular batch was from a pre-shredded bag, a bag his friend found while dumpster-diving outside of a KFC restaurant! I guess this particular type doesn’t bode well for sauerkraut. 😉
I also had the opportunity to attend the Advanced Kombucha Brewing workshop put on by Vanessa Tortolano and Alla Shapiro of NessAlla Kombucha. The workshop touched on topics like continuous brewing, flavoring methods as well as ideas of what to do with all the extra SCOBYs you accumulate when you brew kombucha on a regular basis. I especially loved their SCOBY cure for dry winter hands. Take a SCOBY, blend it up and rub all over your hands. Rinse and you’ll be left with soft and moisturized skin. Vanessa said she does it once a week and no longer suffers from painful dry and cracked hands in the winter. We also got to taste their yummy kombucha including a current seasonal, Pear Sage.
Matt and I had also wanted to attend a couple different bread-making workshops but they sold out before we got around to registering. We won’t make that mistake next year!
I had a little bit of extra time on the last day so I took in a portion of the Farm/Art DTour. I so recommend this and wish I hadn’t waited until the last day! The Farm/Art DTour is a self-guided tour through Sauk County. For those of you not local to Wisconsin, this is the best time of year to visit. The fall colors are just beginning to peak which made for absolutely beautiful drive through rural Wisconsin.
This piano was located at Ableman’s Gorge. I walked up a small hill to get to the installation and a young boy happened to be playing at the time. The acoustics were awesome and it was a cool moment to witness.
I was lucky enough to come across one of the Food Chain stops as well. There was an absolute party going on with live music and a bunch of dancing in the warm autumn sun.
This stop also had vendors selling a variety of handmade food. I picked up a bag of coffee from Lodge Coffee Roasters and a jar of Beer Jelly (smoked porter!) from Chef K. Clark.
The Farm/Art DTour is free but I recommend purchasing an official map for $5. Sales from the map support the continuation of the event and keep you from getting lost. 😉
We had a great introduction to the festival and look forward to getting more involved next year.
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