By Jacob Mathias
The 8th annual Cranberry Blossom Festival will celebrate Wisconsin’s most popular fruit with a weekend long festival.
The festival takes place from June 18-21.
“Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries in the U.S. and we’re number one in Wisconsin,” said Visit Wisconsin Rapids Executive Director Laura Nelson.
The festival’s downtown parade, held June 21 at noon, has been a large draw since the festival’s inception. Krista Coon, Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce program director, said she expects about 70 parade entries.
“I remember as a child going to the parade. I think the festival helped rejuvenate the parade and making it a bigger thing,” said Visit Wisconsin Rapids Marketing Associate Morgan Vanderhei.
The University of Wisconsin Marching Band is returning this year after a one year absence and will perform in the parade as well as display their famous 5th Quarter show at Witter Field on June 21 at 2 PM.
New this year is Central Wisconsin’s Got Talent, based on the well known TV show, will be held as a preliminary contest to the Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield, Wis. The winner and a runner up will compete in Marshfield on September 2 for a chance to win $1000.
After a successful debut last summer, the Chalk it Up sidewalk art show, hosted by the Grand Avenue Artists, is back this year with a Wizard of Oz theme. On June 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, contestants will be provided chalk and given a sidewalk space to create their work of Oz art.
“It’s still in its growing stages and it’s getting bigger and better every year,” said Nelson.
The carnival returns this again this year on Witter Field but Nelson said it will cater to larger crowd. The carnival operates on June 19 from 4 to 9 PM, June 20 from 11 AM to 9 PM and June 21 from 12 to 5 PM.
“We may have some more adult geared rides this year. We’re trying to keep it fresh for people and change up some of the rides,” said Nelson.
This year’s Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers show team will bring the festival to a close, performing this year’s water and ski show “There’s an App for that…in 3D” on June 21 from 6:30-7:30 PM.
Other Cranberry Blossom Festival Favorites returning are:
For the entire month of June, the Grand Avenue Artists will display their painting, pottery, jewelry and more in the all-purpose room of the McMillan Library in downtown Wisconsin Rapids.
The June Dairy and Berry Breakfast, held at Lincoln High School, will feature pancakes, sausage and cranberry juice from 6:30 to 10:30 AM on June 19.
A 50/50 raffle will be sponsored by the Wisconsin Rapids Lionesses. Raffle tickets will be sold at the Dairy and Berry Breakfast, Arts, Crafts and Cranberries Fair and the Parade. The winner will be drawn at the Grand Rapids Firefighters Celebration on June 27.
The Cranberry Blossom Quilt Show will be on display at Witter field on June 20 from 9 AM to 3 PM.
A garden party at Urbans Greenhouse in Rudolph, Wis., will feature workshops and vendors focusing on home gardening on June 20 from 8 AM to 6 PM.
Cinema Under the Stars: A free showing of “The Wizard of Oz” will be located downtown on June 18 at 7:30 PM. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Bring your own chairs and blankets.
The Arts, Crafts and Cranberries fair and Festival Eats and Treats from will feature over 50 local vendors as well as cranberry themed foods and beverages from 10 AM to 4 PM on June 20.
An ice cream social and cranberry history exhibit will be held on June 20 from 11 AM to 3 PM at the South Wood County Historical Museum.
The 5th annual “Cruise-In” show, hosted by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 101 is on June 20 from 10 AM to 4 Pm at Witter Field.
A kids fishing contest for children 14 years old and under is hosted by the Wisconsin Rapids Professional Police Association. Children will fish with local law enforcement and prizes will be awarded in various categories. The first 50 entries receive a door prize as well.
A full schedule of events and locations can be found at blossomfest.com.