October 23, 2021

Sweet memories

People make new ones, remember old ones at Maple Fest

Photos by Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Clinton Johnson holds his 2-year-old son Miles so he can look at the evaporator machine inside the Maple Sugar House Saturday during the 49th Annual Maple Festival in Marathon.

As 7-year-old Lola Williams and her sister, 5-year-old Adelei, put the fluffy maple cotton candy into their mouths Saturday and let it melt, their eyes widened at the sweetness.

“Mmm,” Lola said.

Cotton candy was one of a number of treats for the two girls at at the 49th Annual Central New York Maple Festival Saturday in Marathon.

“They like to look at all the crafts and vendors,” their mother Debbie Williams said.

Lola and Adelei, attending the event for the first time, weren’t the only kids creating new memories at Maple Fest. The festival sees thousands of people over two days with dozens of maple products, from syrup to candies. There were also other food vendors, games, craft vendors and more.

Jaime and Clinton Johnson of Endicott brought their sons Avery, 3, and Miles, 2.

“It’s the first time they’ll probably remember,” Jaime Johnson said.

One of the first places the family checked out was the sugar shack, where the syrup-making process is demonstrated. The couple said they had been coming for five years, now it was time for their kids to experience it.

“We plan on spending hours here,” Jaime Johnson said.

They planned to look at some of the vendors, check out the games and of course eat something maple.

Patrick Rand of Moravia won the pancake-eating contest for the second consecutive year. He ate 17 pancakes, compared to 20 last year. The seven contestants raised nearly $4,000 for charities in the 23rd year of the contest.

Victoria Norris, of Sherburne, hands Vickie Angelo, of Vestal, a jar of maple cream. Angelo was among hundreds of people Saturday to attend the 49th annual Maple Festival.

In the Maple Museum near Lovell Field, Vickie Angelo of Vestal picked up some maple treats. She got her favorite — maple cream — one for herself and one for her sister, Sharon Angelo, who couldn’t make the trip from Kingston.

“I’ve had maple cream other places when I was younger,” she said. “We used to put it on toast.”

She said growing up she loved watching people make maple syrup.

“Everything,” she said. “I could eat everything. This is the one I like best, though.”

At Marathon High School, friends Pat Klensk and Tim Kane of Binghamton poured the syrup over stacks of pancakes during a pancake breakfast. Klensk said she’s been coming to the festival for more than 10 years, while Kane said he couldn’t remember how long he’s been coming, but that he used to bring his kids.

Kane said he was looking forward to eating maple syrup on ice cream later on in the day.

Also in the Maple Museum was Ensign Family Maple selling and giving out samples of maple popcorn. John Ensign said they only make maple popcorn for the festival. It’s something he started doing about five to six years ago.

Maple has been in his blood and being a part of the festival only brings back memories. “My grandfather helped start Maple Fest,” Josh Ensign said. “We love being here.”