Check Out the 13th Annual Cranberry Harvest Festival

A.D. Makepeace Company wants you to celebrate the legacy of Massachusetts' state berry over Columbus Day weekend.
Cranberry Harvest Festival

Photo courtesy of the A.D. Makepeace Company

There’s a reason cranberry sauce has been gracing Thanksgiving tables for so long. Cranberries have a rich history in the Bay State, dating beyond even the days of the Pilgrims. Native Americans prized the tangy, tart berry for its medicinal qualities and basic sustenance. Now, cranberry bogs in Massachusetts account for 30 percent of the global cranberry acreage and nearly 7,000 jobs locally. So it’s only fitting that there’s an entire weekend devoted to the celebration of Massachusetts’ state berry.

Over Columbus Day weekend, you can visit the A.D. Makepeace Company Headquarters at Tihonet Village in Warham for the 13th annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration. Cranberry harvests usually start in mid-September and end by early November, so the festival takes place right in the heart of harvest season. A.D. Makepeace is the world’s largest cranberry producer and has been operating for 160 years. The Ocean Spray Cooperative, a co-sponsor of the festival, was founded by John Makepeace, a descendent of Abel D. Makepeace, in 1930.

Visitors will get a sneak peak into how cranberries are harvested and watch live cooking demonstrations from Johnson & Wales students and chefs. There will also be duck and swan boats available so you can paddle out onto beautiful Tihonet Pond or, for an additional fee, take a helicopter ride to get a bird’s-eye view of the bog.

“We hope that visitors take away an understanding of the cranberry industry and how important it is to the area,” says Linda Burke, A.D. Makepeace’s vice president of marketing and communications.

The festival attracts visitors from all over the world, including several countries in both Europe and Asia, and also showcases local growers and harvesters, such as Decas Cranberry and Blue Water Farms.

To truly immerse yourself in the harvest experience, you can also don some trendy waders and jump into the bog full of floating cranberries for an extra fee.

“People come to us and say, ‘It’s on my bucket list to go out into a flooded cranberry bog and look like Justin and Henry from the Ocean Spray commercials,” Burke says. So A.D. Makepeace decided to make that wish a reality.

Although Ocean Spray, along with the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, is a co-sponsor of the festival, Justin and Henry will not be in attendance. But you can chat with local growers and learn the ins and outs of cranberry harvesting. Moreover, for the first time, Ocean Spray Cranberries will offer a full line of new products for sampling, such as cran-pineapple juice, chocolate-covered cranberries, mocktails, and juices not yet available in stores.

The celebration will also have live music, food vendors, and a marketplace with more than 40 exhibitors offering cranberry-inspired jewelry, watercolor paintings, local honey, and soy candles.

A portion of the admission fees goes to local nonprofits and food pantries. The event is rain or shine, so be sure to check the A.D. Makepeace website for updates on weather and directions.

$10, free for children under 7, Saturday, October 8, and Sunday, October 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, A.D. Makepeace Company Headquarters at Tihonet Village, 158 Tihonet Road, Wareham, admakepeace.com.