Written by Melinda Osterberg
The last weekend in January, Central Wisconsin celebrated the Chinese New Year at the only public community festival recognizing this significant holiday in 2020.
Together, a dedicated group of volunteers, Marathon County Extension, and the Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department brought a Chinese New Year celebration to Wausau for its first communitywide celebration.
Over 750 people attended the event to learn more about Chinese culture and enjoy award-winning entertainment.
The festival began on January 24 with an analysis of the current U.S.–China trade situation. Partnering with the UW–Madison Center for East Asian Studies, Pam Jahnke (The Fabulous Farm Babe) moderated a panel discussion featuring:
- Interim DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski
- UW-Economist Guanming Shi
- Will Hsu (Hsu’s Ginseng)
- Charles Wachsmuth (Chippewa Valley Bean)
Pam Jahnke moderating a panel discussion on current trade policies between the United States and China at the Chinese New Year celebration at the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service. The panel was composed of (from left to right) Randy Romanski, Guanming Shi, Will Hsu, and Charles Wachsmuth.
I invite you to view the panel discussion here, if interested.
The discussion was followed by an International Dinner organized by UW–Stevens Point at Wausau.
In addition, UW–Madison students Reggie Wu and Serena Wu provided information on traditional Chinese New Year customs.
Then, on January 25, the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association performed throughout the day. Performances included a traditional lion dance (as can be seen in the brief video clip below), a kung fu demonstration, and a drum array.
Cooking demonstrations were provided by Event Volunteer Joy Clendenning, and even State of Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes had the opportunity to make dumplings to celebrate the Year of the Rat.
The Ginseng Board of Wisconsin and Hsu’s Ginseng provided information on the health benefits of ginseng and the history of ginseng in Central Wisconsin. Event volunteers provided calligraphy lessons, Mandarin language mini-lessons, storytelling opportunities, and cooking demonstrations.
Overall, the event was a lovely cultural opportunity for the City of Wausau, Marathon County, and the State of Wisconsin! (Read Marathon County’s Lunar New Year Resolution here, if interested.)
We expect to see the event grow even bigger next year…
Hope to see you there!
Marathon & Lincoln County Community Development Educator | UW-Madison Division of Extension
Melinda began her career with Marathon County in 2019, as the Community Development Educator for Marathon and Lincoln Counties. Prior to taking her position with UW-Madison Extension, her focus was land use planning and zoning, both in the private sector and as a County Planner for several counties in Central Wisconsin. In Marathon County, Melinda’s focus is on rural broadband and organizational and economic development, particularly through a cultural lens. In her free time, she enjoys long-distance running, golfing, gardening, and spending time with her two sons (Jack and Mark). Email Melinda Osterberg.
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