There’s no better sign of the arrival of spring in Prince Edward County than the start of the maple syrup season.
While the sap isn’t running full speed just yet, there won’t be any shortage of the sweet water when the 13th annual Maple in the County Festival arrives March 21 – 23.
Local producers and sponsors were on hand Friday at Walt’s Sugar Shack in Consecon for the media kickoff and it appears this year’s event should be bigger than ever.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Taste the County joining the Prince Edward Maple Syrup Producers in hosting the event and organizers are expecting numbers to continue to grow.
“I don’t know the numbers exactly, but I think it’s safe to say in the first few years, there was less than 5,000 people coming out and last year we were between 12,000 and 15,000,” said Lise Rouleau, director of programming and partnerships for Taste the County. “This year we have three new producers on board, which brings it to 10 in the County now and that only helps make the event stronger.”
Local producer Ron Hubbs of Sweetwater Cabin in Amelisburgh said in addition to the Walts, Three Dog Winery and Strictly Maple in Consecon will join the festivities.
“We have three new producers and this is our tenth year with the folks from Taste,” he said. “We also have to think about the heritage of maple syrup in Prince Edward County when we have producers like the Vaders, our longest producers (1910) and the Fosters, who have been around almost as long as the Vaders and are the largest producers (7,000 trees tapped) we have here.”
A warm spell in February let producers collect some sap, cold temperatures locally have delayed the start of the season, which is just fine with Hubbs.
“If it gets warm too early then the buds start to grow and that’s not a good thing,” he explained. “It’ll warm up sooner or later and the sap will start to run steady, so we just have to wait for that.
“There’s a lot of snow this year and most of us have had to use snowshoes to get around to tap the trees, but it also helps as well. The snow helps keep the frost out of the roots and that helps the trees.”
Regardless of the slow start to the season, it will be all about Maple when the festival begins in two weeks. Once again, pancake breakfasts will be one of the main attractions at five different locations.
New this year will be free family activities at Picton’s Crystal Palace. Taking place Saturday and Sunday, outdoors is the TD Canada Trust Ice Zone with a children’s ice slide; a visit with the staff and horses from Heal With Horses and the Hydro One Electricity Discovery Centre; indoors, there will be a Children’s Craft Centre facilitated by staff of The Hub Child & Family Centre; the Maple Artisan’s Market and Café. On Sunday only, there will be family ice Skating from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. at the Picton Fairgrounds Arena, courtesy of Wellington Home Hardware.
Rounding out the Maple weekend will be a series of special live events. Picton Sobeys presents Juno award-winning children’s entertainers, JiggiJump with Judy & David at the Regent Theatre Saturday afternoon; Sugar Shack Shindig at Jackson’s Falls Country Inn including a maple-themed meal and entertainment by Whoa Nellie featuring Vera Colley on Saturday evening; an evening of roots, blues and shades of jazz, performed by Kim Doolittle and her talented friends in Rednersville village church on Friday evening; Prince Edward County Community Theatre’s production of Carnage at Huff Estates Winery on Friday and Saturday evening and a PEC Jazz Festival presentation of Heather Bambrick and dinner at the Waring House on Sunday evening.
From the Intelligencer, by Bruce Bell. Published March 7, 2014.