Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
It took about ten minutes to get to the front of the line, but I knew the wait would be worth every runny, sweet, syrupy drop.
I was a man on a mission. I had left my home early without breakfast and made the 1 hour 20 minute drive from Toronto to be at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, my first, for one reason only – to gorge myself on pancakes. In 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records designated the event as the largest single-day maple syrup festival in the world. So if I was going to check out a festival, this was the one.
The choices were $4 for a single or $5 for a double. Obviously I didn’t drive all the way from Toronto to have one pancake, so I slapped my fiver down without a backward glance. Within minutes I was in a long but quickly moving, organized line leading into a red and white striped tent with dozens of volunteers making pancakes.
“There you go honey,” said a friendly volunteer as she gently placed two plate-wide piping-hot pancakes in front of me. One great thing about this event were the volunteers. Almost everyone who took part in the event, whether it was making pancakes, parking cars, or driving people out to the sugar bush in tractors, were volunteering their own time to make the event a success.
Get me a spoon, please
When I got to the end of the line, Donna Haid, another festival volunteer and President of Elmira District Community Living, gave me a smile and asked me to hold my plate up. Wearing dark shades, a bright yellow waterproof coat and armed with a jug full of the good stuff, this woman clearly wasn’t playing around.
And I’ll say this about her and all the pour-masters at this event – they weren’t shy about dousing our pancakes with pure, fresh, warm Ontario maple syrup. When she was done, there was more syrup in my plate than pancake. You needed a spoon to eat the thing.
I quickly found a seat next to a group of friendly people and devoured my treasures. As I ate the weather cooled considerably and a very light snow began to fall, but those pancakes kept me warm. Before I was even finished my first one my head had gotten light and my kneecaps began to tingle as the rush of sugar, adrenaline and warm, happy thoughts exploded through my brain like fireworks.
I have to say, it was worth the drive to Elmira.
Maple syrup goes with anything
Three words can sum up this festival – maple syrup, people and food, of which there were lots. Jumbo pickles ($1 each or $5 a bag), Mini doughnuts ($1 per dozen from Tiny Tom Doughnuts), and fresh Cheese Curds ($5). Maple syrup of all shapes and sizes to fit all budgets.
One of the things that quickly became apparent was the number of things that could be enjoyed with maple syrup, and they were all proudly displayed in Elmira. Apple fritters with maple syrup or icing sugar ($4), Old style potato pancakes ($3), Hot Maple Baked Beans ($3), Kettle Corn ( $5 for a big bag), and smoked turkey legs ($8).
Another thing that made the festival successful were the stores that lined the street. One lovely little called Kitchen Kuttings on Arthur and Church Street on the northern end of town sells beautiful cheeses, honey, maple syrup, and jams. From furniture stores to restaurants, there were other things to do throughout the day if the crowd became a little too much to deal with.
Overall, another huge success for the festival, which is already promoting their next event on their website. Most people don’t plan their schedules that far ahead, but I have a pretty good idea of where I’ll be on Saturday April 6, 2013.
MORE ABOUT THE ELMIRA MAPLE SYRUP FESTIVAL
Festival Website: elmiramaplesyrup.com
Directions to Elmira: Arriving on 401 from London – exit onto Highway 8 West to 7 eastbound proceed to the second exit of the roundabout and follow Arthur Street to Elmira. Arriving on 401 from Toronto – exit onto Highway 8 (exit 278B) to 7 eastbound proceed to the second exit of the roundabout and follow Arthur Street to Elmira.
Woolich Website: Contact: Phone: 519-669-1647
50, and 60 ooo
2000 again this year.
last festival as chairperson.
Overall, a really good day. we had our wrap up meeting, so many positive comments, because it wasn’t as crowded as it was the year before, poeple were able to get out and meet the vendors they wanted to, there was a very positive attitude and feel in the air, so many volunteers, so many kids, and not just for volunteer hours. Very indicicate of them bgeing part of the community. Everybody had a really good