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Fifty Years of Celebrating Syrup in Vermont

Mar 24, 2016 07:47PM ● By Ryan Frisch

A half-century ago, the first Franklin County Maple Festival was held in downtown St. Albans. Although there were other festivals throughout the state, it soon became clear that this one was bigger and better than the rest. In 1973, Governor Thomas Salmon signed a declaration proclaiming it the official Vermont Maple Festival.

Since that time, much has changed at the festival, but a lot has also stayed the same. The Vermont Maple Festival is a three-day extravaganza, starting this year on Friday, April 22. One of the most popular events is still the parade—always held on the last day. Of late, the opening ceremony has also been well attended and generally features local dignitaries toasting with maple milk. In 1994, Governor Howard Dean chose the festival as the forum for his introduction of maple as the official state flavor of Vermont.

Waiting All Winter

Music, face painting for the kids, and craft and antique shows are all part of the festivities, but the main attraction is the much-loved, sticky sweet stuff. “People wait all winter for the chance to get that maple cream donut, creemee, or cotton candy,” says Betty Ann Lockart, a member of the festival’s Board of Trustees. The festival always features a wide sampling of maple-themed treats, but those who have sampled too much of the sweet stuff can work it off during the 8.5-mile Sap Run that’s traditionally held on the last day of the festival.

One of the nicest things about the Vermont Maple Festival is that many of the events are free. “You can go to the festival with a family,” Betty Ann says. “If you bring your lunch, there’s plenty you can do without spending a cent, although it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to buy something tasty.”

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By Phyl Newbeck

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