Maple Festival brings out the crowds in Hebron

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Sun., Mar. 13, 2011
Gage visits with a Mapleleaf Farms calf at Wenzel Sugar House during the Hebron Maple Festival. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Gage visits with a Mapleleaf Farms calf at Wenzel Sugar House during the Hebron Maple Festival. Photos by Melanie Savage.

In 2010, Hebron’s Maple Festival had to be postponed due to flood-producing rains. This year’s event on March 12 and 13 narrowly escaped the same fate, but the torrential rains stopped the day before the festival. Last year, local sugar houses were boiling maple-scented water, because sap production had already stopped by the time the festival rolled around. Not so this year.

“It’s been really good so far,” said Russell Schaller, answering guests’ questions in his boiling shed. Schaller is the proprietor of Woodyacres Sugar House, and this year his boiler was filled with the real thing – 100 percent local maple sap. “We’ve made over 28 gallons I think so far,” said Schaller. A good year produces 40 or 50 gallons. “We’ve still got a couple of weeks to go,” said Schaller.

New England trees apparently liked the weather we’ve had this year. But with multiple feet of snow on the ground for much of the season, “It was hard getting the taps out this year,” said Schaller.

“We had to use snowshoes right up until last week,” said Brian Whalen, stoking up the boiler at Wenzel Sugar House. Wenzel’s had produced about 35 gallons by the weekend of the Maple Festival. “This week’s looking like it’s going to be a good week,” said Whalen, adding that a good yield for Wenzel’s is about 80 gallons for the season.

In addition to tours of local sugar houses (Winding Brook and Pierce’s were also involved), visitors to this year’s Hebron Maple Festival could choose from a variety of activities. For those with a hankering for history, there were tours of the Old Town Pound (with animals for kids to meet), the Gull Schoolhouse, and the Burrows Hill Schoolhouse. This year also brought the Lebanon Militia to town. The group demonstrated a Revolutionary War encampment, complete with frequent demonstrations of musket volleys.

There were a variety of food items, both maple-based and not, a “Birds of Prey” program, dogs, quilts, bands, crafts, fire trucks and other items to see. But most of all, the Hebron Maple Festival offered an opportunity to get out and get a breath of fresh air after a long winter of hibernation. “It’s just so nice to be able to get outside again,” said young Jack, enthusiastically pulling wads from a large puff of maple cotton candy.

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