March 3, 2011
Organizers thank those who make Maple Fest work
Volunteers treated to pancake dinner in advance of this year’s April 2-3 festival
MARATHON — Dozens of local people who help out with the annual Central New York Maple Festival filed into the Morton building Wednesday to enjoy a pancake, sausage and egg dinner.
The pancake dinner served as a thank you to the various church, school and community groups who work months ahead of time to make the festival happen every year.
The event, in its 41st year, will be April 2 and 3.
“This is an event that requires the whole community to get involved,” said Connie White, who is chair of the festival’s entertainment committee. “We can’t do this by ourselves — it takes the whole community.”
As she flipped golden-brown pancakes, White said the event generates revenue for local churches, schools and other organizations.
Popular festivities include the pancake-eating contest, the craft festivals and the maple syrup and sugar-making demonstrations at the Sugar Shack, Maple Museum and Sugar Shop. The event also has live music.
“This is something we look forward to every year,” White said.
The event is famous for its sale of local maple syrup, shakes, sugars and sundaes.
White estimates that about 1,000 people work together to make the event happen every year.
Jim Burk, who co-chairs the event with his wife, Debbie, said planning committees begin working on the event in September.
“I just like everything about the festival,” Burk said. “I like to walk around the community and see people enjoy themselves.”
Many of the people at the pancake dinner said they have worked at the festival for decades.
Donna Barrows said she hasn’t missed any of the 40 maple festivals. She cooks pancakes for the Masonic Lodge during the festival.
“I like the friendliness and fun you have with the people in the community,” Barrows said. “The whole community works together for the event.”
Barrows said a lot of local residents plan to make sure they are in town the week of the festival.
“You see people from out of town that you don’t see for the rest of the year,” Barrows said.
Laurie Ward is one of about 13 local producers who sell maple syrup at the event.
She said she likes talking with customers about her products and educating them about maple syrup.
“It’s a busy time for all of us,” she said. “But it’s also fun.”
Marathon resident Jim Braman has been going to the event his whole life. In the past, he has served as a chairman and treasurer for the event.
“I like the maple milk shakes the best,” Braman said. “The Maple Festival does a lot for the community and brings a lot of people here.”
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