Rhubarb fest returns to Shawano for 16th year

Lots of goodies infused with rhubarb intertwined with historical displays, reenactments
By: 
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

History will come alive June 15, and so will the food at Shawano’s Rhubarb Festival at Heritage Park, 524 N. Franklin St., Shawano.

This is the 16th year for the festival, and the fun goes on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, with parking available in an open lot behind Old Tabor Church.

“I was not around when the festival was started 16 years ago, but they were looking for something unique as far as what to call it,” said Lana Buelow, festival coordinator. “Rhubarb does have a lot of history, and it was something that was growing and used for many years. It was just a catchy festival, because not everybody has something named like that.”

Company E, 2nd Wisconsin, a Civil War reenactment group, will set up camp at the park to reenact an 1864 presidential campaign debate between Abraham Lincoln and his challenger, Gen. George McClellen. The group has been a regular part of the Rhubarb Festival since its inception.

“That is something different that the group has not done before,” Buelow said.

Providing musical entertainment will be the Regimental Volunteer Band of Wisconsin, which is performing from 10 a.m. to noon under the tent adjacent to the Sikora Family Archives. Performing in the afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m., will be Burnt Toast and Jam. Inside the church, the Scott Buettner Combo will perform beginning at noon.

Besides performers, the main star of the festival is rhubarb. To quench visitors’ thirst, there’s the standard rhubarb lemonade and sangria, a wine from the Hammen Family orchard, rhu-berry slushies from Twig’s Beverage and a rhubarb beer provided through Stubborn Brothers Brewery. A bake sale will include rhubarb pies, tortes, cakes, muffins, cookies and breads.

“We’ve got a cookbook that we sell, and it even includes a rhubarb barbecue sauce,” Buelow said.

Every year, there is a pie baking contest, which has ranged from four to 14 entries per year, according to Buelow. Pies need to be entered before 11 a.m., and contest rules can be found at www.shawanohistory.org.

“There’s no pre-registration. It’s just come and bring your pie,” Buelow said. “Some of the ladies, when they donate pies for the bake sale, if they look really, really nice, sometimes they’ll take them and put them in the pie contest.”

The Shawano County Historical Society’s gift shop will sell rhubarb cookbooks for $12, along with rhubarb jam, rhubarb sauces and more. Outside, the Shawano Woman’s Club will sell plants, including those of the rhubarb variety.

All seven of the historical society buildings at Heritage Park will be open for tours during the event.

lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com