Bittersweet: A.D. Makepeace Co. celebrates final Cranberry Harvest Festival
After 15 years of showcasing Massachusetts’ largest agricultural export, the A.D. Makepeace Co. is celebrating its final Cranberry Harvest Festival this weekend.
“It’s a bittersweet moment for all of us,” said A.D. Makepeace Co. President and CEO Michael Hogan. “But it’s time.”
Since its founding, the festival has grown to attract roughly 20,000 people from across the world to the company’s headquarters on Tihonet Road.
According to Hogan, issues such as changing weather patterns and oversupply are taxing area growers which makes it more difficult for them to donate time and resources to the festival.
“We’re working seven days a week to get the harvest in,” Hogan explained. “Right now is our busiest time of year and there’s fewer people in the industry now than there were five years ago.”
The festival got its start as part of an ongoing effort to educate Southcoast residents on the details of cranberry growing. Since then, it’s grown into a bustling attraction with more than 40 vendors as well as local musicians, a farmers market and food.
Guests on Saturday had a chance to shrug on a pair of waders and enter the bogs themselves. They also got to enjoy other attractions such a helicopter rides and historical displays.
Eric Ceceil of New Bedford attended the festival along with his 12 year-old son, Christopher. Ceceil said he grew up on a bog in Kingston but had never experienced the harvest up close before.
“It’s a ridiculously great experience,” he said. “This is our first year here, and I wish we’d come sooner.”
Heidi McNeany of Rochester echoed Ceceil’s sentiment. Her 3 year-old son, Owen, was captivated as he watched workers harvest berries in the bog.
“We’re very sad it’s ending,” she said. “It feels like my kids are finally old enough to appreciate it.”
According to Hogan, A.D. Makepeace will continue its commitment to education on a smaller scale following the festival with as many as 50 other events.
“We love welcoming the public onto our farm and we don’t want that to stop,” he said.
A portion of admission fees from this year’s festival will go towards local food pantries and other nonprofit organizations who helped to staff the event.
The last day for the festival is tomorrow, Oct. 7. Admission is $10 per person, $5 for seniors and military. Children under 7 are free.