Leading a recent Splash of Red Cranberry Tour
By Marv Kohlbeck
The Splash of Red Cranberry Tours conducted by students enrolled in the cranberry science classes of Bill Urban at Pittsville High School have come to an end, and many students from other schools and tourists from other parts of the state — as well as other states and nations — now have a better knowledge about Wisconsin’s No. 1 fruit.
Acting as a tour leader while Mr. Urban and some FFA members were attending the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, I especially enjoyed a recent tour group that included 40 fourth-grade students from Athens and about 30 adults from scattered areas.
Initially, we showed the group an introductory film about the history of the cranberry industry. Then the tour group was loaded onto a bus, taken to a producing marsh, and shown the actual harvesting of the fruit. The group then followed a semi load of berries to the cleaning and cold storage plant in Pittsville. The two-hour tour was capped off with a hot lunch of soup, sandwiches, cranberry dessert, and a bagged sample of cranberry juice and dried cranberry fruit.
Following the tour a married couple from West Lafayette, Indiana, approached me to see about conducting an 18-minute interview they desired to add to their internet radio program.
Upon completing that, two young lads about the age of 30 approached me with other questions about Wisconsin being the No. 1 cranberry producing state and our boasting of Pittsville being the “cranberry capital of the state and possibly the nation.” I asked them where they were from, and they indicated Cambridge. I responded by saying that I know where that is in southern Wisconsin, but their quick response was, “No, Cambridge, England.”
Naturally my next question was, “How did you find out about this tour?” Their response was the same as the married couple from Indiana, “The internet.”
The twin brothers, Dan and Ben Ritsema, stated that they operate a liquor plant in their city and specialize in the production of a cranberry liquor, which they claim is becoming a popular drink in their pubs. As cranberries are not grown in England, they must rely on worldwide markets to obtain their primary ingredient. They hoped they could find better contacts by taking part in the Splash of Red tour in the small community of Pittsville, USA.
They seemed overwhelmed when asked if they would like to meet the owner of the operation they had just toured. When he was located at the local cranberry juice plant and an invitation to the brothers was extended, they were at a loss of words.
After a full tour of the juice plant, a discussion of possible business transactions followed along with an exchange of respective samples. Parting handshakes appeared to be the making of a newly developed business venture between the two companies, Cranes of England and Badger Fruit Co. of Pittsville — all because of a simple promotion on the internet. Behold the power of advertising.