There’s a sweet story behind this year’s Maple in the County event.
The festival, a March tradition in Prince Edward County to celebrate its maple syrup producers, was run with help from Taste the County for the past 10 years. Taste the County was an organization that promoted county agriculture businesses and restaurants.
However, when Taste the County folded last year, the people behind Maple in the County refused to give up on their festival, which was coming up on its 14th year.
The festival is now run with support from the Prince Edward County Community Development Department and is all set to go for the weekend of March 28-29, a time of year when maple trees are usually producing plenty of sap to make maple syrup.
A press conference to promote the festival was held Friday, March 6 at Strictly Maple, a business near Carrying Place that’s participating in the event. There, organizers celebrated the fact that the event is soldiering on, with ten participating maple syrup producers on this year’s lineup.
“Last year when Taste announced it was closing its doors, the first call we got was from Ron (Hubbs, the festival’s planning committee chair),” said Neil Carbone, Prince Edward County’s Director of Community Development.
Carbone said the festival is important for several reasons; it signifies the start of the busier tourism season and it’s an economic boost to the region as it encourages travellers to drive through the county and support local businesses. But it’s also a sign that the worst weather of the year is over.
“It’s a symbol of the end of winter; it’s a sign that spring is around the corner and I think that’s why everyone comes out,” Carbone said.
Hubbs said that people involved in Maple in the County were only too happy to step up and resume some of the gritty administrative work needed to make the festival run. He said, with Taste of the County no longer running the festival, organizers are trying to put a heavier emphasis on promoting the farms involved.
The committee has been working for several months to get the festival ready, Hubbs said. He explained the festival works similar to an art tour. Participants are encouraged to pick up a map and travel to the various participating farms to see the products they’re offering over the weekend.
“We sell a lot of maple syrup and we sell a lot of value-added products,” Hubbs said. “It’s good for the producers. People always seem to come out and meet at the farms and the sugar bushes.”
The ten participating producers are: Sweetwater Cabin/Hubbs Sugarbush, Fosterholm Farms, Vader’s Maple Syrup, Nyman Farms, Honey Wagon Farms, Sugarbush Vineyards, Waupoos Estates Winery & Sugarbush, Walt’s Sugar Shack, Strictly Maple and Three Dog Winery & Sugarbush.
From INSIDEbelleville, by Steve Petrick. Published March 6, 2015