By Jessica Hartling
Oktoberfest is not the only festival that occured at the end of September. The 41st annual Cranberry Festival (Cranfest) was located in Warrens, Wis., an hour northeast of La Crosse. Warrens is the cranberry capital of Wisconsin, and Cranfest is the largest cranberry festival in the world.
Cranfest has been recognized in both state and nationwide press for being a festival to visit. U.S. News-Travel listed Cranfest as “One of Nine Flavorful Fall Festivals.” It also has been named as Discover Wisconsin Choice Destination in 2011 and 2012.
This festival celebrates Wisconsin’s state fruit, the cranberry, but it also is to help raise funds which will be used for civic betterment and social improvements in the Warrens community. According to the Tomah Monitor Herald, there are more than 1,300 booths for fest goers to shop at. The booths cover more than three miles.
Cranfest has multiple forms of entertainment including a pumpkin carver, a parade and cranberry marsh tours. Cranfest also serves cranberry specialty foods such as cranberries jubilee.
New to Cranfest this year was Cran Jam, a defined music venue. On Friday and Saturday, Cran Jam featured local artists from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $1 admission. Artists included the Kittens, an indie rock/pop band, The Heart Trust, an alternative folk rock group and Scott Wilcox, an American blues singer.
“It is exciting to see so many people here for our festival,” Ashley Mutka, queen of Cranfest, told Lumen. “We are hoping for a big turnout this year because of how nice the weather is.”
On Friday and Saturday, the weather was in the upper 70’s with no precipitation.
“I went with my aunt, my cousins and two family friends,” Kaitlin Juno, senior nursing major from Beloit, Wis., told Lumen. “We had lots of fun checking out different vendors and buying lots of cool things. It has always been our girls’ weekend in the fall!”
“I enjoy going to the festival,” Barb Groszczyk, a fest goer, told Lumen. “They have awesome arts and crafts. I try to start my Christmas shopping with this weekend.”
“Some of these booths are here every year,” Groszczyk said. “I have certain booths I go to every time I am here because people enjoy their gifts so much.”
Groszczyk was wearing a headband with Mickey Mouse ears and Disney T-shirt to match her friends. “You often see other people at Cranfest with fun hats or headbands. I decided I wanted to do the same this year,” Groszczyk said.
Some examples of the matching T-shirts were people dressed up as construction workers with their shirts saying “Under Construction: New Memories Cranfest 2013.” Another shirt design was worn by men said “I am her, Cranfest Mule.”
The 42nd Cranfest will be held on Sept. 26-28, 2014.