Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Warrens Cranberry Festival highlights importance of state fruit

Wisconsin set to produce most cranberries in world for 2023
Sophia Scolman

The 50th annual Warrens Cranberry Festival, or Cranfest, is set to take place in Warrens, Wisconsin from Sept. 22 to Sept. 24. Warren, a hub of cranberry production, is known as the “Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin.”

According to The World Population Review, Warrens typically has just over 500 permanent residents. But close to 140,000 cranberry lovers from around the world flock to Cranfest each year, according to the Warrens Cranberry Festival website.

Since its founding in 1973, the nonprofit organization running the festival has helped to promote the general welfare of the community. The festival has donated over $2 million to organizations in and around Warrens, according to the festival website. The overall economic impact is even greater, as Cranfest generates $4 million in total revenue for the county each year.


Waitress at the Cranberry Country Café and lifelong Warrens resident Marissa Streeter decided to stay in Warrens due to its welcoming and supportive nature.

“[Warrens] It’s very small,” Streeter said. “It’s not like a city or a big town. There’s really nice people here, and it’s just a nice place to be.”

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Cranfest goers will be sure to rejoice as the state of Wisconsin remains the largest cranberry producer in the world for 2023, based on projections released by the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee. Wisconsin cranberry growers expect close to five million barrel crop yield this year, producing close to 60% of all the United States’ cranberries. This will be the 29th year Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production.

“Wisconsin is a global leader in cranberry production, generating $1 billion in state economic impact and providing thousands of local jobs across Wisconsin, and we are proud to continue that tradition in 2023,” Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association Tom Lochner said.

The cranberry became Wisconsin’s state fruit in 2004 following the 2003 Wisconsin Act 174. This came fairly late, as the cranberry has been synonymous with the land of Wisconsin for millennia, according to University of Wisconsin-Extension Cranberry Outreach Specialist Allison Jonjak.

“Since the glaciers, this [Wisconsin] is where cranberries have been, and this is where we’re keeping them,” Jonjak said. “To me, they’re a critical part of Wisconsin’s history and culture.”

Jonjak’s position is relatively new, created three years ago to foster and support a relationship between cranberry farmers and cranberry-specific researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

“I find out what the growers need, what their biggest challenges are, what do you need to solve that you don’t right now have the tools for, and then help the researchers figure out how we tailor our research to meet those unmet needs that the growers have,” Jonjak said.

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Growing up on her family’s cranberry marsh, Jonjak has always been practicing the cranberry problem-solving skills she utilizes in her work today.

“On my parents’ marsh, they converted some acres to organic.” Jonjak said. “They put me as a high schooler in charge of going out and finding out if it works better for us to flamethrower weeds or throw the tops off of them, so I had a bunch of little science experiments to do on the marsh even as a kid.”

Jonjak said cranberries help Wisconsin’s residents beyond their culinary and economic benefits. Cranberries serve an important environmental purpose because they help filter waterways in the local environment.

Brutal Wisconsin winters may be tiresome to Wisconsinites, but are vital for cranberry production. According to Jonjak, the chilling period during winter is necessary for buds to produce fruit.

Jonjak also said Wisconsin is the perfect place for cranberries to grow.

“Cranberries love acidic soils, and Wisconsin both has acidic sandy soils in the central part of the state, and acidic peat soils, so like peat moss, in the northern part of the state,” Jonjak said.

This marriage of conditions, along with the vast amount of research done to aid cranberry growers, will cement Wisconsin’s position as a cranberry powerhouse for years to come.

“We put out more research than all the other regions.” Jonjak said. “We’ve got the best minds in the business, and so the growers are really grateful for Wisconsin’s focus and help for their needs and their challenges.”

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