Experts will agree that there is one crucial thing you must do today if you’re heading to town for the 45th annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival: arrive with an empty stomach.
With rows and rows of vendors selling everything from pork-on-a-bun and pita sandwiches to apple fritters and maple cones, eating the goodies is an integral part of the festivities.
EMSF chair Lavern Brubacher offered up his own strategy for getting the most out of the festival.
“It actually works well to go with family and have a bite of each, so you can share and take in a whole lot more than just one or two of them,” said Brubacher, who has his own list of favourites.
“I always indulge in stuff downtown: cinnamon rolls, chicken legs, and back bacon on a bun – all those good things.”
While there will be all kinds of foods – sweet and salty, warm and cold – the main attraction on the Main, of course, will be pancakes and all things maple: candies, taffies, butters and syrups.
“We’re preparing lots of goodies and candies and syrup for the festival,” said Bernadine Horst of Norman Horst Farm in preparation for today’s main event.
“I made maple treats like taffy cones and maple candies – it’s all related to maple syrup,” she explained, noting that her farm will offer visitors sugar bush tours today as well as supply the Kiwanis Club with some syrup for is potato pancakes.
According to both Horst and Brubacher, it’s been a particularly good year for maple syrup producers – even last week some were in the sugar bush collecting the last dregs of syrup as temperatures dropped at night and warmed during the day, providing freeze-thaw cycles that are optimal for sap flows.
As of early last week the Horst farm was looking at a (good) average yield of some 300 gallons (1,365 litres) of maple syrup.
“The maple syrup season has been pretty robust this year so far, so, I’m sure there will be lots of maple syrup available … there will be no shortage of that. It’s an excellent year,” said Brubacher.
After the better part of a year planning and setting up all this week, organizers of the EMSF are hoping for good weather today and are convinced that visitors will enjoy the largest single day maple syrup festival in the world.
“It’s economical entertainment and so we anticipate people will want to get out and be a part of this spring festive kind of thing,” said Brubacher.
“Just a great day is all I’m looking for. We put this on for the people and hope that it can be a genuine good experience for them.”