Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (June 19, 2023) – In a world brimming with culinary delights, there is one beverage that has captured the hearts and palates of millions across the globe: Root Beer. From its humble beginnings to becoming a beloved classic, this effervescent concoction has carved its own unique place in history. 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. A celebration of history and root beer, the festival is open to the public. Admission is $5 per person. Children and teens 18 and under are free.
Root Beer Festival is a family-centered event that features food, fun, and floats! Some of the offerings include:
- Special presentation about the history of root beer in the schoolhouse
- Live blacksmith demonstrations
- Historic building tours and interpretation
- Live polka music featuring Jerry Voelker and the Jolly Gents
- Games for kids of all ages
- Root Beer cookies on the porch
- Food trucks for lunch
- Root beer floats made with local ice cream in the general store
- Flights of root beer to sample. Cast your vote to determine Door County’s favorite root beer!
The exact roots of Root Beer’s name can be traced to its main ingredient—sassafras root. Native Americans had long been using sassafras for medicinal purposes, and its distinctive flavor and aroma soon found its way into the settlers’ drink recipes. Initially known as “small beer” due to its low alcohol content, it later earned the moniker “Root Beer” due to the primary use of roots in its preparation.
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.
Root Beer’s cultural significance transcended borders, with its popularity spreading worldwide. From soda fountains and roadside stands to family picnics and barbecues, Root Beer has become a staple at social gatherings, offering a refreshing alternative to traditional carbonated beverages.
Today, Root Beer continues to captivate the taste buds of people of all ages, and its enduring appeal is a testament to its rich history. Craft breweries, artisans, and soda companies around the globe are infusing their own creative twists into this timeless classic, keeping the spirit of innovation alive.
Join the Door County Historical Society at Root Beer Festival, as we raise our frosty mugs to celebrate Root Beer’s heritage. Let us savor the effervescence and distinct flavors that have delighted generations. Cheers to Root Beer—a timeless beverage that has truly stood the test of time.
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 www.doorcpuntyhistoricalsociety.org.