The ninth annual Beaver Dam Pepper Festival will be Saturday, September 10, from 9am -4pm. The event will take place at the Park Village Shopping Center in Beaver Dam. It will feature many different food options such as pepper broth, apple pepper pancakes, apple pepper pie, pepper beer and more.
Diana Ogle, event coordinator of the Beaver Dam Pepper Festival shares more on how this event got started, what the pepper is, and what attendees can expect.
The event will also have raffles, square dancing, music and kids entertainment with all proceeds being donated to the Dodge County Center for the Arts.
The heirloom pepper came to Beaver Dam from Hungry in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Folks from Hungry left the oppressed country with everything on their backs including Beaver Dam pepper seeds that they put in the hems of their trousers and their dresses.
“They came here to Beaver Dam because of the prosperity of the industry,” said Ogle. “We had monarch ranges that were being built here, two huge shoe factories and the railroad was here.”
They brought the pepper seeds with them and kept the legacy of these peppers alive. Now the pepper is a little more nontraditional. It’s like two peppers in one as the top of it looks like a regular green, yellow, or red pepper. The bottom is more like a banana pepper and there’s only three ribs on it where a traditional pepper has four.
“About 10 years ago I stumbled across people celebrating the Beaver Dam Pepper Festival in Chicago and Milwaukee and I thought well why wouldn’t we do this in Beaver Dam? So I contacted the executive director of the chamber and the mayor and I said we have got ourselves a gold mine here. Let’s throw a party,” adds Ogle.
John Hendrickson of Stone Circle Farms in Reesville is the local grower. He starts the seeds, plants, and harvests them himself to bring to the Pepper Festival. He has them for sale during the event and also brings other goodies for people to enjoy.
Also this year will be a chili cook off with a first place cash prize of $100.About six different food vendors that are going to be there from pizza to thai food for attendees to enjoy.
The event is free to attend and Ogle encourages people to come celebrate the history of the pepper and try it yourself. It’s not really a spicy pepper as it is more bold than anything else, but like any pepper, it can sneak up on you a little bit.
You can find all the information on their website here.