BANDON - The weather couldn't have been better for the Cranberry Festival last weekend, with sunny skies and unusually warm temperatures for the 72nd annual event.
The festival celebrates the tart, red berry, one of Coos and Curry counties largest agricultural crops, and was held in various locations throughout Bandon, with most of the activities centered in Old Town.
While the festival's theme, "Bog Trek! Boldly Go Where No Cranberry Has Gone Before" may have not created the enthusiasm festival director Anthony Zunino had hoped for, there were many people dressed as characters from Star Trek walking around town and many others applied that or a general space-age theme to their floats and parade entries. (Parade winners will be announced in next week's paper with photos).
The festival kicked off with the Blessing of the Harvest at the Freitag bogs off Ohio Avenue, where cranberry juice is poured into the bogs as a symbolic gesture. The VFW held a craft bazaar and bake sale on Friday and Saturday, as well as its annual breakfast on Sunday. The Bandon Quilt Guild held its quilt show all three days at the Odd Fellows Hall.
Another highlight was the Queen's Coronation on Friday night, where Bandon High School senior Kortney Ferreri was crowned as the 2018 Cranberry Queen at the Sprague Theater, surrounded by her court of princesses Madison Berry, Ivy Mallory and Olivia Schmidt.
Ferreri earned a $1,000 scholarship and was also given the title of Miss Congeniality, with another scholarship of $200, voted on by her fellow court members. She sang "Arms" by Christina Perri and spoke about her platform, Friends of the Coos County Animal Shelter.
Berry played "Superheroes" by The Script on the flute, and her platform was Children's Miracle Network. Mallory did an ASL interpretation to the song "Praying" by Kesha and spoke about mental illness among the elderly. Schmidt played guitar and sang "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac and spoke about environmental awareness.
Schmidt was named first runner-up to Queen Kortney and Mallory received the Steve Underdown Director's Award in the amount of $250.
"All four of our young ladies were the most amazing group I have ever worked with," Zunino said. "Such diversity, dedication and passion to the program. I am so proud of all of them. I certainly made four more friends in Olivia, Kortney, Ivy and Madison this year."
Former Cranberry Festival princesses Mackenzie Basey and Megan Fraser were this year's court directors and Josh Meredith was master of ceremonies. Each princess was escorted by a member of the Bandon Veterans Honor Guard, including Tom Goss, Gary Scorby, Gary Sands and Lewis Slosser.
The parade Saturday morning had many creative entries. Grand Marshal was Julie Miller, former longtime Chamber of Commerce director. Following the parade, people dispersed to enjoy the vendors, classic car show, kids corner along Second Street and music on the main stage.
At 3 p.m., the Bandon Tigers football team played in the Cranberry Bowl, losing to Salem Academy (see sports for game story and photos). During halftime, local cranberry grower Gary Gant was revealed to be this year's Mystery Person.
Zunino felt passionate about "bringing cranberries to the festival," so this year, large crates of fresh cranberries were placed in several places along Second Street. The berries were donated by Ocean Spray and were the ones they use to purge the plant to get it ready for processing. They are usually composted, but about 3,000 pounds were donated this year for the festival.
The idea backfired, however, when the berries were scattered and thrown by enthusiastic young people Saturday afternoon and evening, causing a few merchants to complain. In response, Zunino, Larry Langenberg and Steve Pounder cleaned up the berries starting at 6:15 a.m. Sunday and the only thing left when people began arriving were bright red temporary stains on the street.
"The fresh cranberries were very well received and complimented by visitors and locals and as long as they are available, they will be an integral part of the festival," Zunino said. "We already have ideas in mind to mitigate concerns for next year."
The Cranberry Eating Contest, a favorite among festival-goers, was won by a young man named Eric from Wisconsin, with a close second- and- third-place earned by Makenna Vierck, 11, and Joslyn Gallagher, 12.
The Street Dance on Saturday evening was well attended to a comfortable capacity, Zunino said. The dance featured the country rock band Border Patrol.
Sunday, the Lions Cranberry Run was held (with results to appear next week), as well as a cornhole tournament, won by the team of Daren Robison and Daniel Senn, with Tyler Senn winning the individual title.
Dozens of prizes were awarded Sunday afternoon from the annual Treasure Chest raffle and the kids corner behind Coastal Mist was busy both days.
Zunino was especially pleased with the attendance at the festival on Sunday.
"Overall, I'd call it a success, though attendance was down on Saturday, it was up on Sunday by about 40 percent, so that balanced things out," Zunino said. "Two taverns in Old Town reported record sales and while the merchants said their sales were down a little from previous years, there was still good foot traffic in their shops."
Anyone who would like to help with next year's festival, set for Sept. 13, 14 and 15, can volunteer now, as the planning starts immediately, Zunino said.
"I felt it was a great festival and it couldn't have happened without our wonderful sponsors and volunteers," he said. "We greatly appreciate them."