Tens of thousands of people made their way to town last Saturday for the first in-person iteration of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival since 2019.
The final fundraising tally is still being calculated, but new EMSF chair Matt Jessop said the return was a great success, estimating the turnout at 70,000 to 75,000.
“[It was an] extremely good response, and overall still exactly what the committee set out to do –bring it back and have a strong start back is what we were aiming for,” Jessop said.
Vice-chair Quentin Meyer echoed that sentiment.
“We came out strong after four years. [The break] wasn’t ideal, but being able to come back full-swing was obviously great. To see the great morale and the energy that the community brought to the festival this past weekend was fantastic,” he said.
The day’s weather turned out better than forecasts just days ahead of the festival, at least in the early going. Heavier rain came later in the afternoon.
“I think people rushed out to enjoy the festivities as early as they could, but don’t think it was quite a record-breaking year. For it to be a record-breaking year, the weather would have had to maintain itself as very warm and sunny right through the afternoon,” Jessop noted.
Along with the return of a fully in-person event came a few changes, with the biggest one being the relocation of the pancake venue to the Lions Hall from its previous location at the main mall, which Jessop said was a question mark for the committee going into the day.
“It worked extremely well. The lineup did get a little bit long at one point, however at the peak the line was still only about an hour’s wait to go from lining up to getting served. We were able to move a huge volume of people through the pancake venue,” he said.
The committee met Wednesday night to discuss how the day went and any improvements that should be made going forward.
“Like anything, there’s always points where you may want to rethink something a little bit or make some slight adjustments. I think that the pancake venue as much as it was a success there were committee members that had figured that with even some slight adjustment, it could even be better next year. So I think that we’ll continue to work on that and, hopefully, we can exceed expectations next year,” Jessop explained.
In that vein, 2024 will mark the 60th anniversary of the festival, and the committee is already starting to prepare for it, Meyer said.
Jessop hinted at the possibility of forming a special committee to get alumni committee members involved, noting this year’s success was due to the support the committee received from volunteers and sponsors.
“It’s been fantastic to see and now that the ball is rolling again, we’ll just keep that up and let’s have a great long stretch of festivals to come,” he said.
“It was great to see all the excitement and the commitment that our community members have towards the festival. It was great to see the turnout. We look forward to hosting again in 2024 for our 60th,” Meyer added.