‘We were like a big family.’
HIGHGATE — For more than half of her life, Cecile Laroche has volunteered at the Vermont Maple Festival.
Cecile, 81, of Highgate will retire this year with 43 years worth of experiences under her belt, from compiling together a cookbook of maple recipes to working at the maple store to helping with the youth talent show.
“Yeah, that’s a long time,” said Cecile. “That’s a long time. But my husband and I used to love to do it. It was not a chore for us. It was enjoyable.”
Cecile got her start when her sister Pauline won Miss Maple in 1973. “That was the beginning of it,” said Cecile. “When she came back the following year, I got roped in.”
Cecile began volunteering alongside her husband Marcel; she helped out with the arts and crafts station in city hall while he assisted with setting up the booths.
From that point on, the Vermont Maple Festival was a constant in Cecile and Marcel’s lives.
In the late 1970s, Cecile and Pauline compiled together a cookbook of maple recipes, including Cecile’s maple sugar cake and Pauline’s maple butternut squares. A copy of the book can still be found in Cecile’s kitchen.
Cecile said she and Marcel won countless blue ribbons over the years for their maple syrup and maple products, produced on their farm in Highgate. Cecile said Marcel had a fussy palate and was picky about the maple syrup he ate, preferring fancy over darker syrups.
She, on the other hand, was fussy about who used her maple spoon, handmade by Marcel out of maple wood, which she used while making maple crème and other deserts. “I didn’t even let my kids use that,” she laughed.
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