By Tyson Lautenschlager // Elmira Independent // June 19, 2014
Ken Jessop, this year’s chairperson for the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, touched on some highlights of the 50th festival, including the first-ever opening ceremonies, which took place in Gore Park the day before the festival.
The opening ceremonies was an event enjoyed by many people. It featured a ceremonial “pouring of the syrup” and a pancake lunch.
“The idea for the ceremonial pouring of the syrup on the first pancake came from Kitchener’s Oktoberfest,” said Jessop. “At Oktoberfest, they do a ceremonial ‘tapping of the keg’. We thought this would be a fun idea.”
Jessop was pleased with how the festival’s turnout, despite bitterly cold temperatures.
“We estimated that approximately 50,000 people came out for the 50th Elmira Maple Syrup Festival,” said Jessop. “It was slow at first, but at around 11 a.m., we began seeing a nice flow into town.
“April 5, 2014 will forever go down in history as Elmira’s 50th Maple Syrup Festival.”
Jessop was also pleased to announce that this year’s festival saw an increase in number of volunteers.
“Without community volunteers, this festival could not happen,” Jessop said. “This year, we had a lot of volunteers, more than most years. We can always use more though.”
Elmira resident Joe Kelly was named this year’s Friend of the Festival. Kelly received the award for being a dedicated member of the community, and dedicated to serving at the Maple Syrup Festival.
More than $36,000 went back to the community’s non-profit organizations this year. Jessop says that since the festival began in 1965, more than $1.2 million has gone back to organizations over the years.
Kourtney Beckman was one of many volunteers who accepted cheques for their contributions to the festival. Beckman is the director of the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. She talked about how important and meaningful the Maple Syrup Festival is for some of the women that she works with.
“I hope people realize that the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is not just a one-day festival for some people,” said Beckman as she gave a short speech. “For some of our women, it means a lot to them.”
There were 25 grant recipients, and all but three recipients were on hand to accept their cheques and give a short speech on how they plan to spend the money given to them. Many organizations plan to use the money to improve their infrastructure, buy much-needed equipment to benefit their sports teams, or spend the money in a way that would benefit everyone involved in their organization.
With the 50th festival in the books, it is time to start thinking ahead to Elmira’s 51st Maple Syrup Festival. Next year’s festival will occur on Saturday, March 28.