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Maple In The County

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Following The Maple…

Here we are, it’s a sunny Saturday morning and we are headed back to Prince Edward County. This time it’s for Maple In The County. Like the P.E.C. Studio and Gallery tour, we are going to travel the back roads of to county to follow “The Maple Trail”! Our first stop, of course, will be at a Sugarbush. The Hubb’s Sugarbush is located near Rednersville. It is an easy drive from Carrying Place. We just take County Road #3 which runs parallel to Bay of Quinte. We pass through Rednersville and then travel a short distance until we come to Hubb’s Sugarbush and the Sweetwater Log Cabin. It was hard to miss, since a number of cars were already parked at the side of the road in front of the Sweetwater Cabin. People were lined up waiting for the tractor pulled hay wagon that would take them to the Sugarbush and the Pancake Breakfast! Before we joined the line up we wanted to check out the Sweetwater Cabin with all its maple goodies. After touring the cabin we went back outside and joined the breakfast crowd. We were just in time. One of the transport wagons was just coming into view. Judging by the smile on their faces of the returning group, the pancake breakfast must have been excellent. The wagon emptied and it was our turn to climb aboard the “Sugarbush Express”! Although it was a sunny day, the temperature was a cool -4° C. My wearing a spring coat (stubborn male!) didn’t add to my comfort! After a bumpy ride down a long country lane, we arrived at the Hubb’s Sugarbush and Shack. A heavy veil of smoke surrounded the Sugar Shack indicating that a batch maple syrup was in production! We followed our fellow visitors into the Sugar Shack where staff showed us the production equipment and told us how it worked. The process is certainly fascinating and a must see for all Maple Syrup lovers! From the Shack we walked up a steep incline to where the Pancake Breakfast was in full swing. The covered cooking area was manned by a happy and boisterous group eager to demonstrate their cooking skills. As we waited for our breakfast, a good natured bantering was going on between local visitors and the cooking staff! We finally reach the server who gave us a generous helping of pancakes and sausages. A large tent had been set up with plenty of table and chairs. We sat at two empty places and joined our fellow pancake gourmets. The pancakes and sausages were cooked perfectly and made better when topped with pure maple syrup! Satisfied and full, we left the breakfast area and headed back down the hill. We were just in time to see a tree climbing demonstration by Tom Mikel. His climb up the tree was both inspiring and breathtaking and having the right equipment always helps! Our wagon ride back to the Sweetwater Cabin didn’t seem as long or as cold! Once back we climbed into our car, turned up the heat and started off to see what else this event had to offer!

Cross Country…

From the Sugarbush we drove, cross country, to Wellington. As I have mentioned in previous articles, Wellington is a beautiful little Prince Edward County village nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario. It is the home of the Wellington Dukes, the Prince Edward County Pumpkinfest (Click HERE for article) and, last but not least, the home of my brother Chuck and his wife Flo. Unfortunately they weren’t in town to enjoy tour of the County; instead, they were basking in the warmth of the sunny south! We visited two festival participants in Wellington. The first was Wight’s Greenhouses and Flower Shop. We went inside to the wonderful sights and aromas of fresh flowers. As a festival special, Wight’s were a Maple Syrup Bucket arrangement consisting of spring fresh plants! The Copper Kettle Chocolate Company was located in the little mall just next to Wight’s. As we entered the shop the smell of newly made chocolate was overwhelming! Fortunately owner Sue Burgess had plenty of samples on hand for curious event travelers! Leaving Wellington we headed south on the Loyalist Parkway towards the picturesque town of Picton. Just on the edge of town was the micro brewery, Barley Days Brewery. We almost drove by, but luckily Judi spotted it just in time. We made a u-turn and drove back to their parking lot. Inside the front reception area as immaculate as was the rest of the facility. The young man behind the counter asked if we would like a tour of their premises. He led us into the production portion of the brewery. The guide was showing another couple the facilities, so we waited for our turn. After a short while the other couple’s tour was completed and the guide turned his attention to us. Although Barley Days Brewery is not a large operation, it was apparent from what our guide, Brenden, was telling us that they put as much thought and “love” as the BIG BOYS! If you are traveling though Prince Edward County on the Loyalist Parkway and are interested in beer and the brewing process, Barley Days Brewery would be a good place to stop! They are very friendly and know a lot about beer! At the end of our tour Brenden offered Judi (I don’t drink beer) a taste of their Maple In The CountySugar Shack Ale”. I am not sure she appreciated the unique taste of this ale, but I know she will love the taste of the 2 sample bottles Brenden gave her, Pale Ale and Dark Lager! Now full of knowledge about flowers, chocolate and beer (what a combination) we headed down the road towards Picton and festival sponsor “The Waring House.

On To Picton…

Just on the outskirts of Picton is The Waring House Restaurant & Inn. We entered the driveway into The Waring House complex of buildings. We wound our way to one of the back parking lots (all the rest were taken) and parked our car. The grounds of The Waring House are beautiful, even at this time of year. From the parking lot we made our way past the outbuildings to the restaurant/pub. We enter through the pub doors and then made our way to the main dining area. People were sitting at elegantly set tables enjoying The Waring House fare. At the far end of the room I could see Mabel, the Maple In The County Mascot. She was there with Peggy deWitt, the official event photographer. I have mentioned Peggy before in my Prince Edward County Studio and Gallery Tour. Peggy was taking photos of Mabel and Maple In The County visitors! Event coordinator, Rebecca LeHeup-Bucknell, Executive Director of Taste The County, was on hand to greet visitor and to answer questions about the event. As the presenting sponsor, The Waring House was the hub of event activities. We left the sweet smells of The Waring House and headed down the road to Downtown Picton. After parking our car in one of the town’s side parking lots, we walked up a side road to the main street. One of the wonderful characteristics of Prince Edward County is how the merchants participate in the County events (and there are a lot of them!) Every where we looked merchants were offering “Maple Syrup Specials” or had some activity in front of their store. On the side street that we walked up merchants such as Paper Images (Peggy deWitt), The Painted Peppercorn and The Bean Counter Café were offering event specials. The Painted Peppercorn had a table outside filled with Maple goodies! On the main street there were several activities taking place! We passed a table where they were making Taffy on Ice and Maple Snow Cones. A little further along, on the other side of the street, a clown was entertaining kids (and adults) by blowing up balloons and making balloon animals. Near the balloon clown was singer, songwriter Bev Verge. Bev was serenading event visitors as they passed by. We stopped for a while listen to her wonderful voice. Since it was past one o’clock and we hadn’t had lunch, we decided to look for somewhere to eat. A short distance from where we had listened to Bev was the Coach’s Pub & Grill. The restaurant looked clean and inviting, so we went in. The meal they served us was great. Full and content, we walked back toward where we had parked our car. On the way back, we passed a tented face-painting area. Several children were standing in line waiting excitedly for their turn to become a butterfly, frog or whatever struck the imagination of artist and child! Finally we reached our car. It was time to, once again, head into the back roads of the county …

Jam and Cheese In The County…

We left Picton and headed for open country! The map we were following was confusing, so we decided to “guess” our way around the rest of the county and festival participants. Our first destination was the Hamlet of Milford. Here the Milford Bistro was offering a “maple syrup -inspired menu”. Passing through Milford we started to look for Pat’s Jams. We wound our way through the country roads until we came to a sign that showed us the way to Pat’s. We turned down a “dead-end” country road until we came to Pat’s. We parked on the street in front of Pat’s home and walked up the driveway to the back of the house. She was receiving event visitors on her back porch. Fortunately the back porch had been enclosed in plastic wrap, so the temperature was bearable. On the porch we were greeted by Pat and her friends and told to help ourselves to samples. There was a small assortment of jams set up on a table. The real assortment, all 130 plus varieties, were located in a small room located just off the back of the home. Pat suggested that we take a look! We weren’t disappointed. We had just entered “Jam Heaven”! There were self upon self of “homemade” jams, jellies, chutneys, relishes, butters, marmalades and conserves. After much searching, we chose a couple of different types of jams to purchase! Just down the road from Pat’s we found the Black River Cheese Company. The parking lot was full of festival visitors. We enter the factory’s retail store to the sweet aroma of cheese! People were lined up ready to make their purchase. We explored the store and its different coolers of cheese and then went back outside to the cool of the day. The cheese factory was our last stop on the tour. It was late afternoon and time to head back home. We passed back thorough the villages of Bloomfield and Wellington along the Loyalist Parkway. We had had an enjoyable day all the Maple in the County events, but were glad to be heading home!

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