Wild Rice Festival: Combining health, wellness and culture
By Laurie Lenten
For a taste of Native American culture, check out the annual Wild Rice Festival Saturday, Sept.14, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Lac du Flambeau.
According to Brian Gauthier, a board member of the Lac du Flambeau Chamber of Commerce, the Wild Rice Festival has been an annual celebration for at least the past 25 years, although it has undergone a few name changes along the way.
The Wild Rice Festival is held every year during the rice harvesting season, which can span from late August to early September, says Gauthier. Wild rice has been an important part of Ojibwe culture since the tribes first migrated to the area centuries ago. The rice grows in shallow lakes and rivers and must be harvested in a canoe.
And while the wild rice is the centerpiece of the festival, Gauthier says there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the festival while learning about the Ojibwe culture.
“It is a good family event,” Gauthier said. “It’s actually a health and wellness day with a cultural perspective.”
The day will kick off at 8 a.m. with registration and/or packet pick-up for the Circle of Life 5K Run/Walk, which starts at 10 a.m., and the One-Mile Kiddie Race, which starts at 9 a.m.
The Circle of Life 5K Run/Walk recognizes the preservation of the circle of life in the Lac du Flambeau community. Programs sponsoring the event include HIV/AIDS Prevention, Vaccines for Children, Wisconsin Well Women’s Program, Peter Christiansen Health Center, and the Community Health Department.
While pre-registration for both events is recommended; registration will also take place on the day of the events. And you won’t want to miss this one because all event fees have been waived. Race sponsors have paid all entry fees to help promote healthy lifestyles for tribal and area residents.
To register for the Circle of Life 5K Run/Walk, log onto www.tandhtiming.com and search under Upcoming Events at the top of the page.
Other events will run throughout the day including a Wild Rice Harvesting Demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will show gathering and processing of wild rice; a Fry Bread and Wild Rice Contest at 11 a.m., no pre-registration is required for the contest, just bring your entry the day of the event; a Pie Eating Contest at 2 p.m.; and Kiddie Games throughout the day.
The Wild Rice Festival will also feature a Pow-Wow in the Indian Bowl at 1 p.m. Admission $1 for ages 6 and under, $5 for youth ages 7-17, adults ages 18-54 pay $10, and seniors age 55 and older get in for $5.
The Wild Rice Festival will also feature Native American Arts and Crafts booths, a selection of Native American food concessions, as well as more summery food concessions such as hot dogs and burgers.
The Wild Rice Festival is free and open to the public.
For more information on the Wild Rice Festival, call the Lac du Flambeau Chamber of Commerce at 715-588-3346, or log onto www.lacduflambeauchamber.com.
Laurie Lenten is a freelance writer who lives in Rhinelander. Her articles also appear in Northwoods Commerce, Northwoods ‘boomers and Beyond and Living on the Lake magazines.