Cranberry Festival

Photos and text by Albert Fried-Cassorla

October 24, 2000

Cranberry boggin! It's a fun way to spend an October afternoon. We headed out to Chatsworth, New Jersey, where they have an annual Cranberry Festival. The scenes can be quite lovely... as I hope you will see below! It's about color. The pursuit of it, the reveling in the deep reds of cranberries.All else is dressing, or condiments.

Cranberry workers corraling the berries, prior to funneling into a feeder that places them on a truck. To get this shot, I scrambled out and resisted cries by the tour leader to "Come back, come back!" I guess I'm just a middle-aged delinquent.

Bud's Farm

This particular visit was to a farm maintained by Ocean Spray, called Bud's Farm, actually in Southampton, NJ. The farm has limited tours open to the public. A farm may be reachable through the Cranberry Growers Association, 1-609-268-0641. But your best bet is to follow the Weekend section in the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Camden Courier-Post.

A wonder of marketing

Cranberries are barely edible when eaten raw. Then why the appeal? I am not entirely sure, but the 6th generation farmer who guided us said that marketing had something to do with it. What a tribute to marketing -- that something bitter and that has to be sweetened and enhanced -- can be so popular.

A view of a flooded bog. Water is allowed in via sluice gates, and moved from bog to bog as needed. In Chatsworth, the fair grounds are busy and colorful. But crowded, too!

A tough biz

Only three states figure large in the cranberry farming: Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Conditions of the soil must be just right, with sand required and easy access to water. In case you are contemplating entering this agricultural field, be forewarned. Prices are falling and families are leaving the business in droves.

The vines must be tended and not allowed to freeze, especially in Spring and Fall. To keep freezing from occurring, water must be run in the bogs. Of course, you may want to convert the family pool, if the idea intrigues you!


 This threshing-type machine separates the berries from the vines. As to how those fat tires avoid crushing the berry vines below, I have no idea!

 This truck receives cranberries sent up via the conveyor belt.

Of course they have to watch out for LARGE berries, especially the human variety. My pal Jakov couldn't resist the desire to jump in and berry it up. A helicopter rescued him, and he's fine now!


A long day...

As much fun as being there was, getting there was not a delight. We spent an hour and a quater driving there from the Philly area. Then waited two hours for the bus ride ($12 per ticket). Then rode 45 minutes to Bud's farm... with pretty scenery along the way, followed y 45 minutes back, and an hour and a quarter home. Two port-a-potties served 20,000 people in Chatsworth, with half-hour waits. It was worth it, but be forewarned.


...but worth it!

It's all about sunshine, fresh air, and beautiful berries, a sensual treat.

What it's all about -- shot by leaning over and nearly falling in like my friend Jakov. What dare-deviltry in the cause of art!