Agave Spirits is out Now!

This Fall Fermentation Fest Celebrates Live Culture



Wormfarm Institute announced today that its popular Fermentation Fest: A Live Culture Convergence will return to Witwen Park in the heart of rural Sauk County, WI from October 7-8. This year’s Spirits Edition will be a weekend jam-packed with events in a beautiful rural setting that celebrate live culture, innovative land stewardship, and the significance of rural places. The keynote—a reading by ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan from his new book Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals — will explore distilled spirits and their plant origins.

The event will also feature a variety of “kindred spirits”including great local things to eat and drink, site-responsive artworks that engage with wetland conservation and local Native culture, presentations by historians, farmers, and fermenters, live music, delicious tasting events, artist-made zines, educational community activities, and more.

Fermentation Fest will take place at the historic Witwen Park located at S9855 County Rd E, about 12 miles west of Sauk City, Wisconsin on October 7-8, from 11am to 6pm. Inspired by the history of revival meetings in the unique tabernacle at the park (historically a church campground), the event will feature spirited discussions about a thriving future for rural places and bring together an expansive list of agricultural partners from across rural Sauk County.

While most offerings will be free, a few special programs will require tickets. Tickets for tastings and demos will be limited, with prices ranging from $20-$40. Visit for full event details, and to purchase tickets starting in September.

Wormfarm Executive Director Donna Neuwirth states, “Fermentation is all about abundance and transformation, a process that can result in strong flavors, dense nutrients and, sometimes, altered states of consciousness. In this spirit, Fermentation Fest is an invitation to gather with our neighbors from down the road and across the state to create something transformative.”

“Collaborations in agroforestry, the arts, conservation, agriculture, history, and local business highlight the eclectic spirit of this place,” adds Director of Programs Philip Matthews. “These cross-sections are apparent in this year’s zine publication (to be released at the Fest), featuring 30+ writers, artists, and neighbors imagining what rural places will be like in the year 2073.”

Program highlights include:

● Keynote Readings and Panels featuring a reading by Gary Paul Nabhan from his new book, Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals followed by a talkback with Savanna Institute Director Keefe Keeley; a presentation by historian Erica Ruggiero on the religious history of the Second Great Awakening; and a reading by Ruth Coniff from her book, MilkedHow an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers, followed by a panel discussion with Puentes/Bridges.

● Site-Responsive Artwork by artists Sarah Kavage and Tory Tepp that will use local, natural materials and speak to the site’s ecology and surrounding wetland.

● Native Art Marketplace organized by Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF) will showcase authentic Native art created by LEAF roster artists.

● Fermentation Demonstrations including a tasting event focused on shrubs, bitters, and elixirs led by health food expert Laura Poe Mathes, and grains presentations led by regional growers and bakers, featuring Cobb oven-baked Kernza crackers and shortbread, and a sourdough pizza crust tutorial with Anarchy Acres.

● Local Food and Drink including ferments by Fizzeology, teas and tinctures by Four Elements Organic Herbals, baked goods by Echo Valley Farm, tacos and tamales by the Hispanic Knights of Columbus, and more.

● Live Music and Community Programs including performances by Felix B. Sainz, Jr., Tsuzamen, and other regional musicians, a participatory activity with the Farmer Angel Network, wetland walks, and intuitive readings by artist Rebecca Brown.

Partners & Sponsors

Fermentation Fest: Spirits Edition is organized by Wormfarm Institute in collaboration with regional partners including the Savanna Institute, Little Eagle Arts Foundation, McFarlanes’, Cricket Design Works, Edible Madison, and Rural Urban FLOW. This project was made possible in part through grants from Ruth Foundation for the Arts, The Educational Foundation of America, Builders Initiative, and New Pluralists: Healing Starts Here.

Wormfarm Institute is a nonprofit organization in Sauk County, Wisconsin working to build a sustainable future for agriculture and the arts by fostering links between people and the land. An evolving laboratory of the arts and ecology and fertile ground for creative work, Wormfarm explores the links between rural and urban communities within and beyond the food chain, creating opportunities for cross-sector collaboration. For more information, visit