I was finishing a delicious baked chicken lunch at Misty’s Menu, a small diner just south of Wisconsin Rapids, when I noticed that there was a small dish of cranberry sauce on my plate. Looking around, I saw that just about every dish in the place had some of the tangy sauce.
Well, no wonder.
As A. J. Frels, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau proudly informed me, Wisconsin is the largest cranberry producing state in the country, responsible for over 60% of the national crop. And the Wisconsin Rapids area has their fair share of cranberry marshes (don’t call them bogs up here).
Turns out the wetlands of Wisconsin have a great combination of sand, acid soils, and high water table to make the little berries thrive. The red gold grows on vines in fields as pictured here:
When they are ready for harvesting, the marsh is flooded with water. “Egg-beaters” or water-reels are used to agitate the water and break the berries loose from the vine. The berries float to the surface and are corralled by workers.
Harvesting is done in the Fall from the end of September through most of October. If you’re in the area during that time, you can visit the farms and watch the harvest. (And maybe have a sample or two).
Who is Grim Natwick? Classic Folk Tale Villain? Great Lakes Pirate? Full name of the dog in the comic Mother Goose & Grimm?
None of the above. Myron “Grim” Natwick is the talented artist and animator who created Betty Boop in the 1930s followed by work on Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Gulliver’s Travels, and Mickey Mouse in Fantasia.
He is also a native son of Wisconsin Rapids. The town is Boop crazy. They are holding a Betty Boop Festival from July 28-31 and they have a room at the South Wood County Historical Museum dedicated to Natwick’s work.
I have to admit – Betty’s looking pretty good as she celebrates her 80th birthday!
The museum also has many historical displays from the region including cranberry machinery, logging artifacts, and depictions of turn of the century area life.
I also took some time to visit the Wisconsin Firefighter’s Memorial. It’s a beautifully quiet park on the banks of the Wisconsin River and a fitting tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty.
The Visitors Center holds a variety of firefighting apparatus, uniforms, and photographs. A special treat is a restored hand pumper.
While there, I had the good fortune of meeting Barry Adams, a staff writer for the Wisconsin State Journal, and Tom (my friends call me “Charlie”) Anderson, a retired firefighter. Barry was researching an article and Tom was providing guide services and expertise. Together, we admired the peaceful setting that may provide some solace to those who have lost a hero.
Regardless of the uniform – military, police, or fire – those who have made the ultimate sacrifice should never be forgotten. As long as we continue to build extraordinary memorials like this one – they never will.
Don’t forget to check out today’s Photo Album!
Todays Travel: 312 miles
Total Travel To Date: 1576