Maple in the County has arrived, an annual celebration of our local maple syrup producers. Folks flock for wagon rides through the sugar bushes, visits to huge modern sap evaporators and, of primary interest, the traditional sausages and pancakes which you slather with butter and drown in maple syrup. Weather is usually nippy, but this year it simply poured rain all day. The wise head straight for Fosterholm’s with its large, warm building, wood stove roaring in the corner and grandma’s pancakes stacked high on paper plates. Unlimited syrup and butter grace the tables and the rain can pour all it wants.
The brave tramped on to other attractions, such as the new fire truck proudly displayed by the fire department. The firefighters served pancakes and syrup in an open-sided shed with a view of farm implements and full complement of breezes. Visitors around the county could take in demonstrations of syrup making, try lamb burgers under canvas and a look at real farms in the mud and wet of spring.
The children, of course, wanted to see the animals and got to see them in their fields and pens, unslicked up and slopping through spring conditions. They also quickly learned why farmers wear rubber boots in spring and fall. There is another month, at least, before new green grass is fit for grazing in the fields. Only then can cattle and sheep can shed the muck and manure clinging to their haunches and turn into the sleek and fluffy creatures seen over the fences from the road.
People came from as far away as Ottawa, often toting fancy cameras and sporting designer rainwear. For children, perhaps it was the first time they had ever touched a lamb and many did not know that “baby cows” are called calves. Likely they learned from parents pointing out the big “male cow ” eyeing them placidly from behind his rails. These little visitors are growing further and further away from their agricultural roots, their bedtime stories now featuring astronauts and race car drivers instead of the gamboling lambs, foals and little pink piglets of earlier days.
Despite the endless rain, the festival was a success. Folks went home replete with pancakes and hauling a carload of kids shrieking on sugar highs. Some even had a closer look at where their food actually comes from. We hope they will think about it, at least a little, each time they slather their whiskey infused maple butter on their urban artisan toast.