Root Beer Festival  

Celebrate all things Root Beer during the Door County Historical Society’s Root Beer Festival at the Heritage Village at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay on Saturday, July 8 from 10 am – 3 pm. Although a few adult “beer” festivals dot the Door County throughout the summer, this is the first family-centered “beer” event in northeast Wisconsin. The festival highlights root beer history, floats, food, sampling root beer varieties, and fun!

In the 1870s, pharmacist Charles Hires began selling Hires Root Tea and promoted it as “The Great Health Drink.” He experimented with flavorings from trees and plants like sassafras and sarsaparilla, wintergreen, birch bark, herbs and juniper berries, mixing and boiling until he developed the perfect combination. In 1876, he presented Hires Root Beer at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, the nation’s 100th anniversary celebration. The Library of Congress has cookbooks that contain recipes from 10 or 20 years before he began to sell his version. But Hires gets credit as the first person to produce and market root beer throughout the country.

Guests may purchase a flight of Frosty Top, Petosi, Stone Cellar, A&W, Mug and Baumeister. While sampling the root beers is available, you will not be able to resist purchasing some special root beer offerings: “brown cows,” aka root beer floats, cakes or cupcakes. Consider joining us for lunch of root beer glazed ham or pulled pork sandwiches. We’ll have root beer barrel candy and root beer popcorn, too.

Soda experiments will illustrate fun with soda pop, science and illusion and feature cleaning a penny and making play dough. In between quenching your thirst and appetite, you may explore the Heritage Village during self-guided tours from 10:00 until 3:00. Admission to the Village’s historic buildings, Root Beer Festival, blacksmith demonstrations, and experiments is $6 for adults 18 years and older; no admission fee is charged for children. Sampling tickets, food, and floats are available for purchase.

Guests may also learn about the history of root beer during a presentation; participate in the “Blacksmith for a Day” program, trying your skills at the anvil for an additional fee; or view Richard Furrer’s “Ulfberh+t” sword, featured on the Nova National Geographic special “Secrets of the Viking Sword.”

The Heritage Village at Big Creek is an interpretive center of the Door County Historical Society, located at 2041 Michigan Street in Sturgeon Bay, adjacent to Crossroads at Big Creek. For additional program information contact the Door County Historical Society at (920) 421-2332 or email

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