Two of the Commonwealth’s most historic organizations have announced a collaborative event in celebration of Massachusetts’ state fruit, the cranberry.
Massachusetts Cranberries, established as Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association (CCCGA) in 1888, and Plimoth Patuxet Museums, America’s living history museum, founded in 1947, are launching CranFest, set to take place Nov. 11 and 12.
“Massachusetts Cranberries is excited about this natural collaboration, 75 years in the making, as Plimoth Patuxet’s founder, Henry Hornblower II was a cranberry grower himself,” said Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association Executive Director Brian Wick. “We are proud to share the story of the cranberry and continue to educate the public about our native berry with our friends at Plimoth Patuxet Museums.”
CranFest will be a two-day festival on the grounds of Plimoth Patuxet Museums in Plymouth, celebrating and communicating the enduring history and versatility of Massachusetts cranberries, and their role in the culture, livelihood, and culinary traditions of the region.
Special highlights will include a “Family Day” with activities for all ages, including craft making and storytelling programs, games and seasonal activities; and a “Foodie Day” with lectures, a cranberry recipe contest, local wine/beer tastings and culinary treasures paired with musical entertainment The festival will also showcase local food truck vendors, offer viewings of a cranberry documentary at Plimoth Cinema, and cranberry-themed purveyor’s goods will be for sale in an open-air market.
“We’re delighted to partner with Massachusetts Cranberries to present this wonderful, festive event that offers something for everyone,” said Ellie Donovan, Plimoth Patuxet Museums’ executive director. “As a cultural destination dedicated to bringing history to life, we’re excited about celebrating the cranberry, the role it has in our region’s traditions, and its iconic place in New England life.”
The cranberry has long-standing roots in regional history. Indigenous People throughout southeastern Massachusetts long enjoyed the annual harvest of sasumuneash – wild cranberries – for thousands of years. The indigenous fruit served as a reliable staple in diet, as medicine for healing, and to ward off seasickness.
As the founder of cranberry cultivation, Massachusetts is currently the second largest cranberry growing region in the country.
Cultivation of the cranberry began in 1816, when Revolutionary War veteran Captain Henry Hall of Dennis observed the improved growing habit of wild cranberries in his bogs as winds covered them in sand. Hall developed a technique of spreading sand on transplanted cranberry vines, which quickly became an effective growing method. Growers increased steadily and an industry was born. In that era, the cranberry harvest became so vital to local and state economies that Massachusetts children could be excused from school to work the bogs during harvest season.
Today, farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries annually across the United States and cranberries are exported to countries all over the world.
“CranFest will add yet another exciting event over Plymouth’s busy Thanksgiving season and will offer an additional interpretation of this important time in our American history,” said Lea Filson, President and CEO of See Plymouth. “Cranberries are already economic drivers that support the region’s business community. This partnership will increase tourism and add to our cultural experiences.”
To learn more about CranFest, sponsorship opportunities, vendor information and more, visit plimoth.org/events/cranfest.