October 19, 2021

Drive-through Maple Festival set for April

Cortland Standard file photo

Jody Pangburn of Lisle tastes a sample of Marathon maple syrup at the Maplefest in April 2017. After being canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event will return this year, but modified for social distancing.

After canceling the Central New York Maple Festival last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Connie White knew the board would have come up with something to keep the tradition going.

A drive-through version of Marathon’s iconic event will take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 10 at Appleby Elementary School, where vendors will share their maple-themed products.

“Marathon has had this maple festival for 50 years,” said White, entertainment chairwoman for the festival. “The point this year is to keep us alive and not give up because of COVID.”

The details
What: Drive-through Maple Fest
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 10.
Where: Appleby Elementary School and Main Street

Every organization invited to participate in the event does something at the festival to raise money.

This year, only the Marathon United Methodist Church, Marathon High School and the 4-H Club are joining, White said. The church and 4-H concessions will be on Main Street with maple sundaes and barbecued chicken.

“We are calling this drive-through experience ’49 and Holding, A Maple Festival Extravaganza Experience,’” said Paige Parker, festival chairwoman, in a news release. “We are holding on and letting people know that in Marathon, it is our tradition to celebrate the coming of spring by tapping maple trees, boiling sap and making one of nature’s sweetest gifts.”

The board expects to have a real 50th Central New York Maple Celebration in 2022 — 52 years after it began.

Until then, most of the favorite maple products — maple syrup, maple cotton candy, maple lollipops and maple candy — will be available despite the cancellation of several popular events such as the pancake eating contest, live entertainment and the craft fair, White said.

“It’s going to be maple products and festival foods,” White said. “That’s it.”

However, a private crowning of the maple queen will take place the night of April 9 at the Lapeer Christian Church, but White is unsure what the queen’s duties will be.

Each high school class will sell festival food from apple dumplings and funnel cakes to french fries and hot dogs. The orders will be delivered curbside.

In past years, the high school sent students on an all-expenses-paid trip, including flights, to Walt Disney World with the money raised during Maple Fest.

This year, White expects the outcome to be much different.

“With the exception of the church and the 4-H club, it’ll strictly be our high school classes that make any money,” White said. “It will be a wash in terms of maple products.”