ST. ALBANS — Threats of rain didn’t keep the crowd away from the 49th annual Vermont Maple Festival.
Politicians, local leaders, Franklin County residents and many visitors from Vermont and beyond came out this weekend for the pancake breakfast, maple donuts and creemees, rides, entertainment, and the parade.
“As an observer, I felt both the crowds on Saturday and Sunday were very strong,” said Kaye Mehaffey, who also acted as the festival’s vice chair for 2015. “I’m sure we’ll look back on it as a success.”
Festivities officially kicked off on Friday as concessions stands and maple stores opened, rides ran and maple syrup samples were put out for tasting in Taylor Park.
The youth talent show was held at Missisquoi Valley Union this year (see winners’ photos on page 2A), and a new show, the Buckey Lewis Comedy Show, was put on at Bellows Free Academy Friday night.
On Saturday, the pancake breakfast was held at St. Albans City School. Early birds had the chance to get their coffee poured by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, and throughout the morning anyone who wanted could have their face painted by volunteer Bobbi Jo Davis.
Pancake-lovers then had the chance to do it all over again on Sunday.
School bus sugarhouse tours to Branon Family Maple Orchards and Corey’s Maple in Fairfield ran throughout Saturday. People also had the chance to go to the antiques show and the craft and specialty foods show, held at St. Albans Town Educational Center and the BFA gym, respectively.
Following the offerings of various shows, demonstrations and even a new woodsman competition by Cold Hollow Career Center students on Saturday afternoon, the Vermont Maple BBQ and Awards dinner was held in St. Mary’s Hall.
There, the winners of the Vermont Maple Syrup and Products contest – determined by a blind taste test – were announced.
Golden Color-Delicate Taste: Don Morgan of Charlotte
Amber Color-Rich Taste: Sheldon View Maple
Dark Color-Robust Taste: Wayne Montgomery of Sheldon Springs
Best of Show: Wayne Montgomery of Sheldon Springs
C. Blake Roy Award: Wayne Montgomery of Sheldon Springs
Maple Sugar Cakes: Graham Farms Maple of Williamstown
Maple Cream: Taft’s Milk & Maple of Huntington
Maple Fudge: Ellen Stark Partridge Hill of Williston
Maple Granulated Sugar: Maple Kitchen for Vermont Maple Festival
In addition, the Vermont Maple Festival Cooking Contest overall winner was announced. It was Keeli Garceau, of St. Albans, who took the prize with her Maple Bacon Cream Cupcakes.
On Sunday, the 36th annual Sap Run from Swanton to St. Albans was held before the parade, which had a new time and a new route this year. Beginning at noon, the parade moved up Stebbins Street, along North Main Street and down Lower Newton Street.
While new, this parade plan seemed to go over well with Vermont Maple Festival attendees.
“I walked the length of it,” said Mehaffey. “I think the spectators adjusted to it and the ones I talked to seemed to appreciate it covering new territory it didn’t previously.”
She added, “I think it went well.”