Maple syrup anyone? The Maple Festival in Geagua County, OH


This weekend I finally made it out to the Maple Festival out in Geagua County, a 4 day festival which celebrates maple syrup.   The festival has been held in Chardon, OH since 1926.

This year due to the unusually warm temperatures, the maple syrup production was stopped earlier than expected and also reduced production.   You couldn’t tell from the festival – there was things related to maple syrup everywhere.   There was a Maple syrup contest, a Geauga County Maple Festival queen walking around with a sash and a tiera, maple syrup barbeque, and pancakes and maple syrup served at the main tent.

We headed to the festival on Sunday morning, and by 12 noon they were out of pancakes.  Around the corner from the festival we found a church that had its own pancake breakfast event in the basement.  For $9 we got all the pancakes we could eat with butter and maple syrup, sausage that I didn’t eat, and coffee, tea, or milk,

After we got our food, we sat down next to a couple who asked us where we were from.  “I knew you weren’t from around here,” she said.  “Otherwise I would know you already.”  It turns out she was the producer of the maple syrup that they were serving at the breakfast.  I have to say – it was the best maple syrup I have had.  Not too sweet, and really good with the butter and chewy pancakes.

There were paddles on the tables labeled COFFEE or PANCAKES.  When you ran out of pancakes or coffee you would hold the paddle in the air until you were served.  Somehow I managed to eat 6 (!) pancakes which is the most pancakes I have ever eaten in my life.

At the festival we ate maple caramel corn, and for $1.00 got a small bowl of warm maple syrup and a popsicle stick.  You use the stick to eat small dabs of syrup that cools ands hardens in the bowl if you don’t eat it quickly.

We planned our visit in time to make the “bathtub race,” which is a race where clawfoot tubs are put on wheels.  Teams from the area compete in races where two team members push a third member who sits in the bathtub.  I’m not sure how they steered it – but they had to roll down the street, make a half-circle – then head back to the finish line.  The teams had matching shirts, and seemed to be from local businesses and other groups.

By 1 pm the finalists of the lumberjack competition were competing in events such as chain saw cutting, cross-cut sawing (where a team of 2 men use a oldtime giant saw with 2 handles to make 2 cross-cuts of wood), and axe flying.  Complementary earplugs were available – which were good to have for the chain saw events.

The event had games and food stands like any festival, and there were lots of fried things on sticks including fried swiss cheese, fried snickers, and fried pizza sticks.  There also was a French fry place that had fries that ranged in size from jumbo to bucket.   Similar to how Starbucks names its sizes – jumbo was the small.

On the grounds there were historical maple syrup equipment on display, including a collection of spigots which are used to collect syrup, several setups that showed how the syrup used to be heated which included a large cauldron over a stove, and a Native American traditional setup of using a split log that would be filled with syrup and put over a log.



About the Author

KbaumlierKristen Baumlier’s work spans the full spectrum of interdisciplinary media, including performance, interactive installation, video and audio works.View all posts by Kbaumlier →

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