WAUSAU - For over 50 years, the Town of Wausauhas paid homage to the lowly opossum (or ‘possum’, as they are known locally) by holding the annual Wausau Possum Festival on the first Saturday in August.
The event is executed by the Town of Wausau, the Wausau Development Club and the Wausau Volunteer Fire Department, for which it is the largest fundraiser for the year, entertaining thousands of attendees and allowing the department to operate and purchase equipment.
'Woman’s Day Magazine’ has declared the Wausau Possum Festival as ‘One of the most unique festivals in the world’, due in large part to it’s truly unique flavor and heritage.
The event, in which no opossum or any other animal is mistreated or injured in any way, and which has been regulated by the Florida Wildlife Commission, features a traditional beauty pageant, a parade, ‘Possum Auction’ and the annual ‘Possum King and Queen Contest’, featuring outlandishly dressed (and performing) local characters, along with a huge array of vendors and children’s activities.
On Monday, May 11, the Wausau Volunteer Fire Department voted to forgo the festival for 2020, at least in part due to the COVID-19 viral pandemic.
The event is known world-wide, covered by regional media, and Florida candidates for Governor know that they must attend and purchase a possum in the ‘Possum Auction’ to be considered for election to that gubernatorial office.
Debbie Goulding, President of the Goulding Agency, the public relations firm for the Festival and the Town of Wausau, said, “This festival celebrated 50 years of heritage last year, in 2019, and we know that the Town of Wausau will make the correct decision about the future of the event. This region, not unlike the rest of the world, is ready to relax just a little, and this event could furnish that opportunity, but only if it is deemed safe, according to health standards.”
Wausau’s City Council was expected to meet to vote on their stance on whether to proceed with the festival or cancel it. If canceled, it will mark yet another announcement of cancellation of festivals for the region, including the recent announcement of the cancellation of the annual Watermelon Festival.