Cheryl Peterson and her team of 25 Elmira Maple Syrup Festival committee members spent the better part of a year planning and setting up for the party that drew 70,000 people out last Saturday. But it took some 2,000 volunteers and community members to make sure it went off without a hitch.
“There are so many people who helped out to make this festival a great success,” said the EMSF chair. “The festival committee put countless hours of their time in all year long: the volunteers who came out the week before and the day of the festival to help out, the high school students who volunteered to move the heavy stuff, the businesses who partnered with the festival, the township and the staff and the community as a whole.”
Also lending a helping hand was Mother Nature, providing the best weather in a few years and drawing thousands of additional people to Elmira. Cars were backed up to the north end of Waterloo as people flowed in to take in the sunshine, turkey legs and of course, the maple syrup.
The large turnout will translate into higher revenues for the festival, which uses proceeds to fund a variety of charitable and community groups. The final tally won’t be known until later in the spring, however.
This was the 46th time that Elmira has hosted the festival, and early estimates predict it could be the busiest yet. In 2000, visitors were officially counted to earn the event a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest one-day maple syrup festival. That year, 66,529 people were recorded. This time around, the turnout was larger, committee members agreed.
If pancake sales are any indicator, it was a very busy day indeed. It took more than 240 volunteers to successfully run the pancake tent, with more than 15,000 pancakes flipped, said Peterson.
“We even had to go get more batter to keep from running out.”
The 160 gallons of syrup and 50 giant boxes of pancake mix the committee had pre-ordered were not quite enough for the crowds of people who surrounded the pancake tent from early morning until well beyond 4 p.m.
Peterson noted with relief that the pancake shortage was practically the only big challenge faced on festival day.
“For that many people to come to town and not have any major incidents: that’s noteworthy,” she said. “Everything went pretty much as we had hoped it would and although there are some things we can tweak for next year, we are really pleased.”
Funds raised by the festival will be dispersed to community organizations in mid-June.