Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival Visited
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
In April 2007 Judi and I visited our first festival. This was our first Visited Adventure. The festival was the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. This was the start of 10 years of discoveries and adventures. So far we have visited over 500 festivals, events, fairs, museums, heritage sites, attractions and communities. To commemorate our 10 years, we re-visited the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. The following presents our reunion with this fabulous events!
"The main street was closed off to vehicles."
Elmvale's main street was alive with activity. Maple Syrup vendors seemed to be everywhere! We were entering "Maple Syrup Heaven"!
"The Maple Sugar Shack was selling tickets to the Sugar Bush tour."
We stopped at the Sugar Shack to purchase our tickets to the Sugar Bush tour. We were interested to experience the tour again.
"Music filled the air."
Just across from the Sugar Shack, a trio played music for festival visitors. We stay to listen.
"Judi and I climbed aboard the school bus for our journey to the Sugar Bushes."
After listening to the music, we boarded the school bus, with others, for the trip to the Sugar Bush farms. I was impressed with the number of families eager for their Sugar Bush experience!
"Lalonde's Maple Syrup facility."
Our first stop was Lalonde's Sugar Bush. We all left the school bus and treked to the Sugar Shack!
"Inside the Sugar Shack."
Once we were inside the Shack, we gathered around the Maple Syrup equipment. Here we were told about the Maple Syrup making process.
"The wood fire was burning brightly."
A fire was burning in the Shack's "syrup heating" furnace, making the air around it quite warm. Judi and I decided to go back outside.
"Some of the trees surrounding the Shack had old fashion Syrup Buckets."
Even though the Lalonde Maple Syrup operation uses modern methods of collectiong syrup, they had installed a few older fashion buckets on trees. This allow visitors to experience how the syrup use to be collected.
"The Greenlaw Sugar Bush."
After experiencing the Lalonde Sugar Bush we took the shuttle to the Greenlaw Sugar Bush. We could see the syrup collecting lines weaving their way from Maple tree to Maple tree!
"Inside the Greenlaw Sugar Shack."
After touring the Greenlaw facility, we headed back to Elmvale.
"Back on the main Elmvale's main street."
Back in Elmvale we started to make our way through the many festival visitors and explore the festival's vendors. What a great collection of goods!
"A Maple Syrup booth"
Of course, many of the festival vendor's were selling Maple Syrup products. Visitors lined up to buy the "sweet" Maple Syrup "goodies"!
"Action on the community stage was taking place."
In the town centre a "log cutting" challenge was taking place. Teams from town and the surrounding area were taking part. Cheers from supporters filled the centre!
"Rides were whirling around for visitor fun."
Midway rides were set up near the Elmvale Community Arena. People were lining up for their turn.
"An Arts & Craft Show was being held in the Arena."
We went into the Elmvale Community Arena to explore the arts and craft show. Like other areas of the festivals, the show was crowded with enthusiatic shoppers!
"Breakfast was being served at the Elmvale Community Hall."
A pancake breakfast was being served, but this year we decide not to partake (reluctantely). It was getting later in the day, so we headed for our car.
"Miss Amber Maple ~ the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival mascot."
On the way out, we passed "Miss Amber Maple" coming out one of Elmvale's stores. She stopped her rounds while took her photo.
This year's event was every bit as fun as our first visit, so many years ago. What a great way to start off the next 10 years! For more information about the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival, click HERE.
The following article is reprint of my first Blog article. It was written in April 2007 as part of my "Adventures of the Festival Nomad" Blog. I hope that you enjoy it!
We Are Off For Some Maple Syrup...
Saturday was a great day to travel. The day was warm, about 23C and not a cloud in the sky. We first discovered the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival on the internet. We “goggled” festivals and events Ontario and came to a site that featured Ontario events. One of the festivals shown was in Elmvale. The festival was also listed the "Festivals & Events in Ontario" guide. To learn more about the festival we went onto the festivals website www.elmvalemaplesyrup.ca . Here we learned when & where the festival was taking place. There were written directions and a map. The website was easy to manoeuvre and very informative. This was the festival’s 41st anniversary and the enthusiasm still seemed to be very high. We decided to take the drive to Elmvale, about 225km one way.
Our First Impressions...
We followed the directions given on the festival website. They were great. We had no trouble finding the festival grounds. They were right on the main street! The incoming traffic flowed smoothly. As we passed the festival entrance, we started to look for a parking spot. We were lucky. We found a parking spot very close to the festival entrance. We had arrived at about 10:30 am. Others, who arrived later, were not as lucky. We were expecting to see signs showing us where to park, but could not see any. We also looked for a bus to transport us from parking to the festival, but did not see any. Both the signage and the buses were mentioned on the festival website, but if they were there, we didn’t see them. Fortunately for us, the walk from our car to the festival was only a short distance. We were not alone. Already, at that time of day, the festival entrance was packed. We looked for a formal entrance, but there was none. You just walked onto the main street and you were part of the festival. There was a “Sugar Shack” as you entered the main street. It sold tickets to maple sugar bush tour. Only $3.00 per adult, a real bargain! They also had free festival programs and had festival souvenirs for sale. We purchased 2 tour tickets and received our Festival Program.
We were all set to enjoy our 1st time at the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival.
Our Learning Experience...
We were now set to experience the festival. As we walked into the festival area, we had to maneuver our way through the crowds. There was a trailer “stage” set up that ran across much of the street. It was just a short distance from the entry area. There were performers on stage and people were crowded around listening to them. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. We could not linger, because the bus to take us on the Sugar Bush Tour had come and was filling up. Everyone boarded the School Bus and we were off for the great adventure! Our first stop was to Lalonde’s Sugar Bush. Here we were given a tour of their maple sugar operation. They showed us the tapped trees with the feeder lines coming from the trees to their main building. From there they showed us how they turned the sap into maple syrup. Once we were through the Lalonde tour, we went outside to wait for our transportation to the next tour. It was great to see the variety of people enjoying the tour, from seniors to children and everywhere in between. The Lalonde’s even had a pony ride available for the children. For the trip to the next tour, we rode in style… a decked out hay wagon (with old automobile seats) pulled by two beautiful “very large” horses. Too quickly we arrived at Greenlaw Maples. At Greenlaw’s we were treated to the operation’s history by Mr. Greenlaw, a third generation maple sugar operator. He proudly showed us how maple syrup was made and the equipment, new and old, needed to make it. After the Greenlaw tour, our horse drawn “chariot” picked us up and we were whisked off back to Lalonde’s bush. After a short wait, we were taken back to the festival. It was a great informative tour, well worth the enormous sum of $3 each.
Our “School Bus” dropped us, “students”, back to the festival entrance. The crowds were getting larger. On the main stage a group of ”hardy” looking men were lined up against the back wall of the stage waiting their turn to saw a log. This was the log sawing contest advertised in the festival guide. It looked like a lot of fun and hard work. I’m glad they were doing it! As we moved further down the street, dodging men, women, children, dogs and strollers, we came to the first of many vendor booths. On this street they were lined up on the middle of the road, flanked on either side of the road by the permanent shops. Everyone, shops and vendors alike, were geared to cater to festival visitors. The sounds, people talking and laughing, music through loud speakers, and the smells, hotdogs, sausages, hamburgers cooking and sizzling, popcorn popping, were all very inviting. There was a good variety of products being offered by the vendors. One booth was offering a “World Famous (something?)”, really a sausage in a bun. It was lunch time so I purchased one to eat… it was quite good, however, I’m not sure about “World Famous” part. At least the seller caught my attention. Products sold in the booths ranged from “World Famous… food” to jewelry, souvenirs, and, of course, to maple syrup products. On reaching the end of festival on the main street, we looked right and there was another street full of vendor booths. On one of the corners of the intersection was the Elmvale Public Library. In the festival guide and on the website they had advertised a giant book sale. Judi and I decided to check it out. Once inside, squeezing our way passed the people waiting to use the Library’s washrooms, we entered the main Library area. The room was not only set up for the book sale, but had an entertainment area for browsers to sit down, relax and listen to a live performance by a very talented singer. After buying a few books and listening to the music, we took our leave. It was hard to leave, but we wanted to take in the rest of the festival.
Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival (Continued)
We left the Library and moved on to the second festival street. This street was just as crowded, full of festival attendees and vendors. Unlike the main street where the vendors were located in the middle of the street, here the vendors lined the outsides of the street. The crowded streets made travel slow, but we, along with everyone else were enjoying the sights and sounds of the festival. After investigating most of the vendors along the way, we reached the end of the street. Here it opened up into large grounds that held several other activities. To our left was where the kiddies could play. There were pony rides and a plastic blow up that allowed kids to jump around and get rid of some of their excess energy. To our right was the midway. The noise and motion of the rides created an enthusiastic excitement that was evident in all those who were standing waiting for their turn of thrills and laughter. Straight ahead was the Arena. Here one could enter the building and go upstairs to view the Women’s Institute Quilt Show and demonstrations or they could go to the main floor to the Arts and Crafts Shows. Admission to the Arts & Crafts was only $2 each. Unfortunately, due to time and a grumbling stomach, we missed these events for this year. We will certainly see them next year! The festival website and the program guide showed that there was an “all day pancake breakfast”. How could anyone attend a Maple Syrup Festival and not have pancakes smothered in Maple Syrup? Certainly we couldn’t! We had had missed the Pancake House (Elmvale’s Community Hall) on our way up main street. As a typical male, I never looked at the map to see where it was located! Fortunately Judi was smart enough to look at the guide and pointed us in the right direction.
The Grand Finale!
After working our way back through the crowds, we found the Pancake House (aka the Community Hall). As we entered, we joined the long line-up to purchase our meal tickets. The volunteers working the breakfast were very efficient and friendly and the line moved quickly. After receiving a generous portion of pancakes and sausages, we looked around to find a place to eat. Although the hall was packed, we found a place to sit close to the front. This was fortunate because a band was about to come on stage and perform. The music was lively! I think everyone’s right foot was tapping! Once we had finished the meal, it was time to head out for the long drive home.
We had a great time at the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival! This is a festival and I would recommend to my friends and family. It had energy and excitement. The fact that it has been run continuously for 41 years is a testament to both the community of Elmvale and its hardworking volunteers. Well done Elmvale!