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Maple in the County festival plans are a sweet promise of spring

Maple Mable (friend of Phil St.-Jean) chuckles as producer Justin Williams instructs Prince Edward County Mayor Ferguson on how to tap a tree. – Thomas Goyer photo

By Thomas Goyer
Plans announced amid snow squalls Friday, for this year’s 19th annual Maple in the County celebrations, are a sweet reminder that spring truly is on tap.

Local maple producer families, politicians and media collected at Justin’s Maple Syrup, at Wilhome Farms in Bloomfield, for a taste of what’s to come for this year’s first harvest of the season.

Keturah Breckon and Justin Williams with Maple Mable. – Thomas Goyer photo

“It’s a fun way for everyone to get together before it all begins,” said host Justin Williams, with wife, Keturah. He expects this year’s syrup season will be the best one yet, if Mother Nature co-operates.

“Maple syrup is a very labour-intensive crop,” noted producer Ron Hubbs. “But it’s done with pride and dignity and producers strive to put their best product forward for sale.”

All their work is celebrated during the weekend festival.

“The producers work together, and come together and it really pays off,” said Hubbs, who took a moment to honour Clifford Foster, 89, who was unable to attend this year’s event.

Fosterholm Farms, at East Lake, with Clifford, Dean and Rylan Foster, is one of the County’s oldest operation, producing since 1924, and now features 7,500 taps in the bush. Todd and Susan Vader operate the County’s longest-running, as the family has been tapping at East Lake since 1910.

The festival’s youngest participant is County Shores Farms on Cty. Road 15, where they will feature their wood-fired evaporator and also barbecued foods.

Several producers spoke of using improved technology which removes more water from sap, leaving it with higher sugar content and taking half the time to boil into syrup, thus burning a lot less wood in evaporators.

Maple in the County weekend is March 28 and 29 this year with 13 sugarbushes, plus other events and activities. – Thomas Goyer photo

All spoke of maple-inspired offerings including the traditional pancake breakfasts, maple sausages, taffy in the snow, maple popcorn, and many maple-inspired treats, foods and drinks to tempt visitors.

County mayor Steve Ferguson says that Maple in the County is an important way for the area to start the tourism season.

“Tourists learn more about the County, contribute to the local economy and they spread the word far and wide,” he said, noting that while Maple in the County is about the County as a whole, the maple producers are the ones who are under the spotlight.

“This is their showcase and an opportunity for them to really shine.”

Maple in the County is a celebration of tradition and innovation, said Adam Bramburger, constitutency assistant with MPP Todd Smith.

“It’s really about those families who come back year after year looking for those memories,” he said.

Maple in the County weekend is March 28 and 29 this year with 13 sugarbushes, plus other events and activities.

See a full listing of the weekend’s sugarbushes and activities online at mapleinthecounty.ca

 

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