ST. ALBANS — Conditions at the 53rd Vermont Maple Festival sweetened over its three days.
Chilly rain and abrasive winds conspired to keep festival goers out of the streets Friday and much of Saturday.
Meteorologists claimed those winds reached upwards of 26 mph Friday, but tempered to no more than 16 mph Saturday, at which point the rain picked up.
And though the rain stopped late Saturday night, temperatures then dropped Sunday to the goosebumps-inducing low 40s.
It was “not the best festival weekend,” said Cecile Branon, co-chair of the festival. “Friday was basically a wash.”
The carnival was closed for a part of the weekend due to the weather and couldn’t open four rides at all because the federal government has not released seasonal visas to employees, according to Branon.
But the craft show and maple stores did okay, she said.
“It’s sad because the shows we bring in are phenomenal,” said Branon, citing the No String Marionette Company in particular. “The music we had all weekend was fantastic.”
“The weather needs to cooperate,” said Branon. Rain and cold have bedeviled the festival for the past three years.
Sunshine, however, came with the parade on Sunday.
Minutes after its finish, the sun cracked the clouds, swiftly raising temperatures for the river of attendees coursing through North Main Street.
Many stayed in the sunshine right up until the moment concessions closed, around 4 p.m.
Some even lingered beyond that, licking maple creemees in the street or pushing strollers of chipper children in the park.
One bright spot was those who traveled to come to the festival. The festival keeps track of where visitors to the maple sugar houses, the information tent and other locations are from.
“We had an unbelievable group from out of state,” said Branon, listing states from New England, the mid-West and the South, as well as Canada and Switzerland. “We are bringing a lot of people from out of state.”
Every year the show seeks to expand, brining new activities and shows.
Organizers have already decided on one thing to add next year – rain coats and umbrellas.
The hope, according to Branon, is that if they plan for rain, they’ll get sunshine.
Editor’s note: The Messenger will run winners from the maple contest, talent show and other events at the Vermont Maple Festival later in the week. Coverage of the Sap Run begins on page 21 Photo contest winners appeared in the April 27-28 Weekend Edition.