There’ll be no firing up the griddle at the pancake tent this spring, as the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival will again be a virtual event.
That’s not what organizing committee co-chair Doug McLean had in mind when the festival opted for an online experience in 2021, a year after the emergence of the novel coronavirus forced the event’s outright cancellation in 2020. Rather, he expected the return of in-person activities on April 2. The omicron variant had other ideas.
Having early last week decided to pass on a live event for 2022, the EMSF committee decided at a January 27 meeting to take things virtual.
“It’s not what we were hoping for, but we have to deal with it,” said McLean, noting this year’s online festival will look much like last year’s.
“We’re going to have the sugar bush online. We’re going to have the video or the information from Maple Syrup Museum in St. Jacobs online. We are offering our toy truck for sale,” he said. “We were going ahead with sappy hour – that was popular – and where we have the mall, people that are putting their information on our website advertising for people to come in to their place to gather things as opposed to meeting them on the mall. We are working on a 50/50 draw.”
Where last year the committee sold breakfast-kit boxes as part of the fundraising effort, this year the idea is to sell merchandise such as toques, baseball caps and tree-tapping kits
“We have sap collecting buckets with our logo on, a sap-making kit that we have will be available for sale.”
As with the previous two years, sponsors have continued with their support for the festival, which typically raises tens of thousands of dollars for local charities. Last year, some $30,000 was raised despite the lack of in-person activities.
“There is great support from the community in the way of sponsorship even though we’re not having an in-person event. They’re stepping up quite surprisingly, which is wonderful to see,” said McLean, noting the public can also help through the purchase of merchandise such as hats.
“That’s going to be something we hope people will be interested in purchasing. It’s very difficult to find methods to raise big dollars to give back to the community with a virtual festival. So we’re doing what we can by offering things to be seen on our website to let people enjoy some of what they could have come out and seen online like sugar bush tours, the maple syrup museum and things of that nature.
“We are doing our best to entertain the community, to give them a little hope for springtime and that we’ll eventually get rid of COVID.”