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Visitors fill their (rubber) boots with all things maple

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Despite a day of rain Saturday and a sprinkling of snow Sunday, visitors to Maple in the County events on the weekend filled up on the first, and sweetest harvest of the year.

The 18th edition of the festival – deemed the unofficial start to the County’s tourist season – showcased a dozen sugarbushes and two dozen other locations to celebrate the season.

Visits to sugarbushes were offered in every corner of the island and many local wineries, breweries, a distillery, restaurants and a cidery joined in the maple-themed fun.

While steady rain Saturday added plenty of mud to the maple-themed menu, the early spring weather didn’t keep crowds away, nor did it dampen spirits.

While it helped to melt lingering ice and snow, many of the farm locations turned to mud, with some faring better than others. Rain boots were an essential tool for visitors.

Boiling maple sap in the evaporator at Nyman Farms.

“We always have mud, but this is exceptional,” said Michelle Nyman of Nyman Farms on Mowbray Road.

The popular stop on the maple route featured fresh-cooked beef burgers, pork sausage, hearty soup and pastries to warm and fill hungry tummies. But it was the animal barn containing baby lambs, young chicks, piglets and calves that delighted kids and adults alike.

“It’s nice for kids to see animals they wouldn’t normally see,” noted Nyman.

Although a little on the damp side, a giant sand hill complete with big toy trucks and diggers entertained a few children who didn’t mind the rain. Also on display was a selection of old and new farm equipment.

PECMH nurses Cheryl Minaker and Nancy Lough welcomed visitors to the pancake breakfast at LOHA Farms.

Visitors to LOHA Farms on Lucks X-Road showed their support for the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation again this year, with a portion of all breakfast sales going toward the Back the Build campaign for the new hospital.

Inside the warm, dry barn were several local vendors selling a variety of wares, including maple syrup and treats.

The ever-popular all-day pancake breakfast drew large crowds at LOHA Farms.

Logan Campbell, 6, was engrossed in painting bee boxes at the kids’ play area at LOHA Farms.

Tubes of paints and games kept children occupied indoors, while the bubbling evaporator boiled down sap in a separate building on the property.

Ted Norris of Morrison Point Farm brought local honey, and a honeycomb for tasting, at LOHA Farms.

Ted Norris, of Morrison Point Farm in Black River, had honey for sale. The large piece of natural raw honeycomb at his booth wasn’t just for display, but was a free sweet treat for anyone wanting to try a little piece of the four-year-old honeycomb.

The Prince Edward County Fire Department demonstrated ice rescue techniques and invited members of the public to don an ice rescue suit and float in a pool of water. Children were encouraged to explore the inside of the fire rescue truck, and some tried on the heavy full-size helmets worn by the firefighters.

Gabby Campbell, age 9, checks out the inside of a fire rescue truck with brother Logan Campbell, age six, at LOHA Farms.

While rain and mud curtailed a few events throughout the County, most went ahead and included a lumberjack show, wagon and buggy rides, petting zoos, maple trivia, bonfires, live musical entertainment as well as self-guided sugarbush walks.

It was a pancake production line in the make-shift kitchen at LOHA Farms.

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