Warrens warrants admiration for excellent festival A scene drawn up from the heart of Wisconsin


Warrens Cranberry Festival got off to a solid start last Friday, as people flowed in from all directions, to enjoy the infamous festival, in the tiny town. The buttons and banners, stating that this is the 49th time the event has taken place, indicates that these specific festival folks know what they are doing. Food stands lined the streets, stretching up and down the heavily travelled main drags and leafing off towards the woods, as well. Wagons were being pulled and filled, in all corners of the festival, with items that were intriguing enough to be bought and transferred to a new home. Those who had fostered the items, smiled, as they saw the wheels of the weekend festival set into motion, on their enterprising ventures within the venue.

Wetherby Cranberry had a make-shift cranberry bog setup, where, for ten dollars, curious bystanders could transform into cranberry gatherers. A pair of hip waders would be donned, altering any type of fashion statement someone may have held up to that point. Miss Sparta was seen in the bog having her photo taken, while others went in as a group, marking the event with an amazing photo. The bright-red-cranberry backdrop floated hip-high to most, providing the kind of perfection only mother nature can create, without a filter. 

Food was at the festival, in both abundance and variety. BP Smokehouse, out of Tomah, was there with plenty of smiles and BBQ at their booth, both available, along with jazzy music, while you awaited perfection. A Taste of Manila had Lumpia available, which is like an egg roll, with a Filipino flare. Signs could be spotted for cream puffs, smoothies, nachos, deep fried cranberries, chocolate covered bananas, beef jerky, soups, seafood and even crickets!

Shelby Smith, out of Ames, Iowa had a booth where fest goers could sample her specialty, crickets. Known as the “Cricket Lady,” Smith handed out stickers for every successful ingested cricket that stated simply, “I ate a Cricket.”  Owner and founder of Gym-N-Eat cricket, Shelby was quick to point out that this was her first Cranberry Fest, and only second event in Wisconsin. “People in Wisconsin take a bit to warm up to the crickets, but slowly they are coming to accept the idea,” Smith stated. “I am in 80 of the Hy-Vee grocery stores. Since my start in 2018, I have doubled my sales every year.” The crickets come in many flavors, quite similar to potato chips. High in protein and essential vitamins, Smith is marching to the chirp of her own cricket. For more information go to www.gymneatcrickets.com or find her on Facebook.

Professional fest goers had wagons with them, to help lug around all the possible items that they may purchase. Amy Hartman, from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, had a large, wooden snowman and some sunflowers in her cart. Sunflowers seemed to be the hot item on that cool Friday. Sandy Acker, from Stanley, Wisconsin had a full cart also, and was spotted taking a rest from the haul. Alpaca clothing, cooking oils, flags, beds, swings, unique lawn fixtures and wooden carvings, all lined the colorful pathways that weaved through Warrens big festival.

Aside from eating, tours and items for sale, one could simply enjoy people watching. Groups breeze into the fest in colorful outfits, and the gregarious groups are not shy about the fun that they are having. Jugglers can be seen, working on donations. Miss Wisconsin even stopped by, before heading up to Minocqua’s “Beef-A-Rama.”

The image that perfectly caught the potential of Warrens Cranberry Festival, was that of a youngster, Remington Gesler (10), from Sand Creek, Wisconsin, who was caught enjoying a chocolate-covered banana, with sprinkles. That image alone represented the youthful spirit that we all hold within our souls; an image that causes reflection to boomerang back at us, with memories of best friends, family trips, silly innocence and a yearning for exploration and treasures. The crisp, fall weather may snap us back to the present time, but we smile, because we remember.

Benny Mailman, Warrens, Cranberry Festival, Monroe county herald, front page,


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