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Vilas County cranberry marsh sells product year-roundSubmitted: 08/18/2017

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Manitowish Waters would certainly look different today without its cranberry marshes.

The nearly 600 acres of fields have been around for decades, so it's a good thing that we eat cranberries more than just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That's kept a lot of the marshes in Vilas County going since 1946.

Back then, five families moved up to the Northwoods and bought some property near Little Trout Lake.

They helped each other get started and often shared equipment.

Those pioneers helped shape Manitowish Waters.

"A lot of the infrastructure things weren't here, so the road, the clearing for the powerlines, etc.," said Vilas Cranberry Company co-owner Bob Winter. "They did a lot of that stuff."

The marshes haven't just helped develop the south end of Manitowish Waters.

The seasonal jobs have helped support the community too.

"We spend our money locally, at the local hardware store, local restaurants, etc. trying to help in the community in any way we can," said Winter.

Vilas Cranberry sits on 182 acres.

Winter thinks his farm will produce between four-and-a-half and five millions pounds this season.

Story By: Anthony DaBruzzi

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 LOCAL NEWS

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Northwoods tourism thrives off of fishing, hunting, and lake life.

Sometimes, people want to take a piece of that Northwoods culture home with them.

You might not recognize this sign in its beginning stages.

Mike Patek makes these handmade signs under the name "Vintage Cabin Signs" in Manitowish Waters.

He controls everything from the cut to the paint.

His signs go all over the country.

They're based off of Northwoods vacation images from the 30s and 40s; think old fishing magazines, travel posters, and postcards.

"Some of them need a certain softness to it. And that can really only be done by hand," says Patek.

The aged, rusty, worn and torn look doesn't take years to get that way, it's hand done.

Mike has silk screened since he was about 14. The process hasn't worn on him yet.

" It's different. You're never doing the exact same thing every day," says Patek.

He is always finding "new" antique images to use for inspiration in his work.

"There's more out there than I will ever be able to do. It's picking the ones you like that's the hardest part."

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SHAWANO COUNTY - One person died when an explosion leveled a home in Shawano county early Thursday morning.

The Shawano County Sheriff's Department says 54 year old Diane Pickett was found dead in the remains of the house.

A second person who lived at the house was out of town when the explosion happened.

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SAYNER - A needle and thread means more to Pat Andersen than just sewing.

"I started quilting when I was 19 so it's been a passion of mine for a long time," said Pat. 

Quilting gives her a community of ladies in the Northwoods. 

"Sayner needs something like this, it needs something for the women to do," said Pat.
 
After moving to Sayner with her husband Don last spring, the two decided to buy the building that now houses Plum Lake Quilts. Pat needed somewhere to put her long arm machine and that eventually turned into a little retail business. 

"I mean little and then it grew a little bit and it grew a little bit more," said Don Andersen.

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RHINELANDER - Cancer survivors and supporters gathered at Ministry St. Mary's Hospital for the 10th annual Celebration of Life Thursday. The event honors those battling cancer or survivors of cancer and shows people what kinds of services the James Beck Cancer Center offers. 

The center's namesake lost his life to cancer, but now others will be able to benefit from his gift to the hospital.

"With his vision and his dollars we were able to put this cancer center here in Rhinelander so patients don't have to travel to larger cities," said Director of Cancer Services Kimberly Hetland. 

This year's speaker was Mike Regole, a survivor of tonsil cancer. He spoke about his experience at the center, how family and support affected his journey, and how he ran a business while having cancer.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Most people look at a piece of wood and that's all they see, but Dan Haack envisions something different.

"I like to take a piece of wood and look at it and carve on it and all the sudden I have a little man's face inside of it," said Haack, who's from Rhinelander.

Haack is one of the 11 instructors at the 21st Musky Area Woodcarvers Workshop in Boulder Junction.
"I teach caricature carvings," Haack said.

More than 100 people came to the workshop to learn different ways to carve, paint, and burn wood.
"For most of the folks in here it's a hobby," said Phil Strand.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Just a few years ago, crumbling cement, steps, and seats filled Lac du Flambeau's Indian Bowl. Now, a major reconstruction project is halfway done. It will hopefully give people from all over a chance to learn about Native American culture and traditions once again.

"We increase that sense of pride in our community," said Director of Planning and Development Emerson Coy.

Coy still remembers how the old Indian Bowl used to look like.

"It was used in bad shape before that and it was sad," said Coy.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - On a busy stretch of Highway 47 near Lac du Flambeau -- where hundreds of wheels spin at 55 miles-per-hour each day -- just one tire drags at a slower pace, pulled by one man: the Tire Man.

"I guess I'm the only one nutty enough to do it, I suppose," Frank Tarantino said with a laugh.

Tarantino lives in Mercer, but trains for marathons in Lac du Flambeau.  He started pulling a tire on a chain a few years ago after reading about it in a fitness magazine.  People often stop to take his picture.

"Little by little you run a little further, a little further," Tarantino said.

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