Village of Warrens hosts world’s largest cranberry festival

Warrens Cranberry Festival runs Sept. 26-28

Oktoberfest isn’t the only festival in the area this weekend.

The Village of Warrens is basically shutting down for the 42nd annual Warrens Cranberry Festival.

Beginning in 1973, the festival is a celebration of the cranberry harvesting season.

Even though this year’s crop is projected to be down compared to last year’s record-setting crop, that won’t stop around 150,000 people from filling the streets of Warrens.

Vendors were out in full force Thursday setting up and preparing themselves for the World’s Largest Cranberry Festival.

Nearly 1,400 booths, totaling 3 miles in length, will be set up on every street and front yard in the Cranberry Capitol of Wisconsin.

“Like our main saying that everybody says, ‘If you can’t find it in Warrens, you can’t find it anywhere,'” festival treasurer Carolyn Habelman said.

While vendors are obviously looking to make money themselves, they’re bringing in lots of money to the Village of Warrens.

“Our purpose is to improve the quality of life in the Village of Warrens,” Habelman said.

And the festival is doing that. All profits from the weekend go straight back to the 300-person village. In past years festival profits have been used to repave Main Street, buy the town a garbage truck and remodel the baseball field.

“There is no way to improve the quality of life except by volunteers. Nobody’s paid, everybody volunteers, all of us on the board, all our positions. And all that money and time goes back into the village,” Habelman said.

And as important as Cranberry Fest is to Warrens, the fruit itself is “berry” important to the state of Wisconsin.

“It has a huge impact on the economy of the region and the entire state,” director of Wisconsin Carnberry Discovery Center Marianne Strozewski said.

Wisconsin is and has been No. 1 producer of cranberries in the U.S. for 20 years in row. Producing two-thirds of the nations cranberry crop. Employing around 3,500 people and contributing nearly $300 million each year to the state’s economy.

“There are about 250 cranberry growers in the state of Wisconsin. 21,000 acres of cranberries in 20 counties and yet there’s a huge concentration (around Warrens),” Strozewski said.

Cranberries are measured in barrels. Each barrel weighs 100 pounds.

Last year Wisconsin harvested a record setting 6 million barrels of cranberries. This year’s crop is projected around 4.8 million barrels.

Warrens Cranberry Festival begins Friday at 7 a.m.

For more information and a schedule of events click here.