The ninth annual Kickapoo Country Fair returns to southwestern Wisconsin on July 28, featuring chef Michel Nischan, food policy expert Raj Patel and foodÂ safety advocate Andrew Kimbrell. The fair will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 28, in La Farge, WI,Â withÂ theÂ cooperative theme of “Everything’s Better Together!” Nestled amid the steepÂ hills and coulees of southwestern Wisconsin’sÂ Driftless region, this year’sÂ Kickapoo Country Fair will attract thousands to a day-long festival of growing,Â cooking, eating andÂ sharing food, together, sponsored by Organic Valley.
Expect lots of family fun. In addition toÂ kidÂ favorites like ice cream making, face painting, and a petting zoo of farmÂ animals, kids can go for the gold in farmer Olympics;Â learn about cooperationÂ with giant stretchy bands and parachutes; and smell, touch and taste safe, wildÂ plants with herbalÂ educators. Older guests can learn how to raise backyardÂ chickens, forage for wild mushrooms, keep bees, make pesto, and savorÂ localÂ beer and cheese pairings. People of all ages can chow down on delicious,Â organic, local food and New Orleans rock-n-rollÂ bandÂ Cowboy MouthÂ will performÂ on the main stageÂ at 7 p.m.
This year’s Fair theme is a nod to the UnitedÂ Nations declaration of 2012 as theÂ “InternationalÂ Year of Cooperatives.”Â HighlightingÂ what we can do together toÂ drive change in our food system, internationally renowned food author andÂ activist Raj Patel willÂ headline the event at 1 p.m.Â Patel is a strong voice for creating a fairer societyÂ and sustainable economy,Â particularly as it relates to food production andÂ consumption. His latest book,Â The ValueÂ of Nothing: How to Reshape MarketÂ Society and Redefine Democracy, exploresÂ our nation’s economic structure and the recent collapse. He is also the authorÂ ofÂ StuffedÂ and Starved: The Hidden BattleÂ for the World Food System, which discusses the worldwide food crisis andÂ what needs to be doneÂ to solve it. Patel’s work has also appeared in theÂ Los Angeles Times,Â Newsweek, NPR and BBC.
“More andÂ more evidence points to the fact that cooperative, organic farming can buildÂ communities and save the environment,”Â said Patel. “The more we learn, the moreÂ the question changes from ‘Can we feed the world organically’ to ‘HowÂ will we feed theÂ world, organicallyÂ and better, together?'”
Festival sponsor Organic Valley has 1,723 organicÂ farmers-owners nationwide — dozens of which are located just miles from theÂ Kickapoo Country Fair grounds — and has thrived largely due to its belief thatÂ the world is made better through cooperation.
AndrewÂ KimbrellÂ will address fairgoersÂ at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage.Â Founder and executive director ofÂ the Center for FoodÂ Safety and the International Center for TechnologyÂ Assessment in Washington, D.C., Kimbrell is one of the country’s leadingÂ environmental attorneys and an author of numerous books and articles on environment,Â technology and society, and food issues.Â His recent books includeÂ YourÂ Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food,Â FallÂ Harvest: TheÂ Tragedy of Industrial AgricultureÂ andÂ The Human Body Shop:Â The Engineering and Marketing of Life.Â Â In 2007, Kimbrell wasÂ namedÂ one of the 50 people most likely to save the planet byÂ The Guardian-U.K.
Fair goers will get their Kickapoo Kitchen onÂ withÂ Chef Michel Nischan,Â sustainable food pioneer, restaurant owner, award-winning cookbook author andÂ PBS celebrity chef, in a hands-on workshop whipping up culinary tastesÂ at 4:30 p.m. in theÂ workshop/demo tent.Â OtherÂ chefs and cookbook authors will lead workshops and teach cooking techniques, suchÂ as kitchen herbÂ gardening, vegetable fermentation, soft cheese making, creatingÂ a great pork rub and DIY pig butchering.Â Â This year’s “PracticallyÂ Green” tent features a series of lifestyleÂ workshops that provide practical green living ideas and advice fair-goers canÂ implement atÂ home, including edible landscaping, grafting and budding fruitÂ trees, beekeeping and advice for raising backyard chickens.
Passes providing access to all Kickapoo CountryÂ Fair activities are only $5 for adults, $2 for kids 12 and under, and free forÂ kidsÂ five and under. Free food sampling occurs all day long, including pesto,Â meats and the popular beer and cheese pairings. For those interested in making it a weekendÂ affair, camp or stay the night at one of the local campgrounds, bed &Â breakfasts orÂ country cabins, then return to the fair grounds for an all-you-can-eat organic breakfast at Organic Valley’s Milky Way CafÃ© onÂ Sunday, July 29Â from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Cost is $8 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under and freeÂ for kids three and under.
Organic Valley hosts theÂ KickapooÂ Country Fair with support from more than 75 local businesses and organizations,Â including theÂ Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Kamp Kenwood and the Kickapoo ValleyÂ Reserve. For more information about the event, includingÂ the official schedule and area lodging information, or to purchase tickets,Â visitÂ www.kickapoocountryfair.org,Â or find the fair on Facebook atÂ www.facebook.com/KickapooCountryFair.