Paige Parker could see the writing on the wall for the impending cancellation of the 50th Annual Central New York Maple Festival two weeks ago when the Marathon Central School District started sending out messages regarding the coronavirus.
When the situation got worse, and the school district decided to close its buildings, Parker, a co-chairwoman of the festival, made the decision with the festival’s other executive members last week to cancel the festival.
“I was a tad emotional about it,” she said.
Parker holds a close connection to the festival.
Her grandfather, Clifton Parker, was one of its founders.
What would have been the event’s 50th annual year April 18 and 19 will have to be put on hold until April 2021 as restrictions on social gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic have barred nonessential public gatherings.
Parker said that beyond the yearly traditions of maple foods being sold and activities like helicopter rides and games, a parade would have honored the past pageant queens along with a question-and answer session with the queens.
She also recognized the affect that canceling would bring to the community as the event has historically been a large fundraiser for Marathon High School’s senior class trip and how many maple producers used the event to gain extra cash for equipment upgrades and repairs.
“Everyone in the town is involved with it,” said Josh Ensign, also a co-chairman of the festival.
Ensign, who is a maple producer with his family’s business, Ensign Family Maple Products, said more than $50,000 in maple products are sold to the thousands of people annually at the two-day event.
Adam Compton, a Marathon resident, was one of those attendees.
“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. Compton, 34, said he has been going to the event “pretty much every year since I’ve been alive.”
His favorite part of the festival? “Just getting out and seeing all the cool stuff everybody brings to the market,” he said.
Parker said that in September, she plans to send out emails and vendor registration forms for next year’s event. Also contact information for maple producers who were going to be at the event has been put on the Central New York Maple Festival Facebook page.
Parker said she hopes “next year’s event will be twice as big and can help with the debt for all the people who had to cancel or not gain money this year,” she said.
And will locals attend next year?
“I intend on attending as long as I am around here,” Compton said.