The women of St. Andrew's Catholic Church have been making cranberry syrup for their annual Warrens Cranberry Festival pancake breakfast every year since the first festival was held 40 years ago.
The cranberry syrup recipe was developed by the late Ann Nemitz, a local cranberry grower's wife and a lifelong member of St. Andrew's Church.
"That first year, we made just a little bit of cranberry syrup and we ran out, so the next year we made more and we still ran out," recalled Warrens resident and St. Andrew's parishioner Theresa Anderson.
Nemitz was in charge of the church ladies who helped make the cranberry syrup for 25 years or more, Anderson said.
"Ann always did the measuring of the ingredients as she knew just how to make it. We didn't have candy thermometers at first, so Ann would put a plate in the freezer and then she'd drip some syrup on it to see if we had it too thick or to thin," she said.
Along with developing the cranberry syrup recipe, Nemitz also held the distinction of being a member of St. Andrew's Church both when it was located in the Town of Millston and when it was relocated to Warrens.
The church was built in 1896 by 11 German families in an area between Warrens and Millston known as St. Andrew's Settlement.
In the mid 1930s, the federal government purchased the land where the church stood as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's effort to move farmers residing on marginal land to more productive areas.
After the families in St. Andrew's Settlement relocated, the church was no longer used. But there were 32 Catholic families living in the Warrens area at the time, so during the winter of 1939-40, the church was moved to its current location in Warrens.
The first Mass in Warrens was celebrated in the Warrens Town Hall on March 19, 1939, the Feast of St. Joseph. The intent was to name the church after St. Joseph and that is what was engraved on the cornerstone of the church's new foundation.
However, when La Crosse Bishop Alexander McGavick dedicated the church in the fall of 1940, he named it St. Andrew the Apostle Church in honor of the families who had originally built the structure.
In 1963 an addition - which covered up the contradictory cornerstone - was built to accommodate more seating upstairs. A kitchen and restrooms were added in the church basement at the same time. The kitchen was remodeled this summer, just in time for the 40th annual pancake breakfast.
As in past years, volunteers will be serving the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with a choice of cranberry or pure maple syrup from 6-11 a.m. all three days of the festival, which this year runs Sept. 28-30.
The menu also includes sausages, assorted cranberry jams, cranberry sauce, coffee, milk and, of course, cranberry juice.
Mass is held on Saturday evenings at 6 p.m. at St. Andrew's Church. During Cranfest, an additional Mass is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.