Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Visit to Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival

The 46th annual Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival took place on Saturday, and your intrepid reporters were there. I suspect far fewer than the usual number of people were though, as the weather could only be described as pissing. Well, cold. I guess it could also be described as cold. Cold and pissing. Brrrrr. Snow would actually have been better in some ways, but never mind; we had that later. This is spring, is it?

Elmvale is a small town of about 1,700 people, north of Barrie and south of Midland. Wasaga Beach lies pretty much directly to the west. We had driven through it before, but had never really stopped to look at it. I was surprised at what an attractive town it really is, and how much it had going for it. The downtown seemed almost as big as Meaford's, which has 4 or 5 times the population.

As is customary with maple festivals, the main attraction was a pancake and syrup meal. Elmvale has a very nice, downtown community centre in which the pancake breakfast takes place.

Oh, here's where everyone is, and why not? For $6 we got three big pancakes and three breakfast sausages, along with a cup of tea, coffee or juice. Maple syrup stood on the tables in bottles, to be applied ad lib.

We arrived at about 9:00 am, which was just the right time. Any later and the line up was a lot longer. However, they had a good system going and we quickly got our breakfast. All my indoor photos are a little misty. I'd wipe the lens, take a picture, wipe the lens, take a picture... but it would fog up again pretty instantly. It was a lot warmer inside than out - thank goodness.

I believe the group playing on stage was "North of 50". They looked like they had been drafted from Timmy's but they sounded absolutely great! One of our tablemates was singing along with them and I would have joined in, if I had known the words and if they wouldn't have popped a bag over my head and hustled me out. Yes, we had a lot of fun at breakfast!

As we left, the line up was really starting to grow.

The main street and cross street to the arena were filled with vendors, many of them selling maple syrup. Our one disappointment was that the season has been late and long this year, and no-one has any dark syrup yet. Overall that's a good thing though - there should be a bumper crop this year.

More syrup - can't miss this guy, his truck is orange!

But there were other things too; quite a lot of sausage and cold cuts, but what we bought were some of these Dutch stroopwaffels as we walked back from the arena. There was a craft and quilt show in the arena, along with a midway out in front, which is something I haven't seen at a maple festival before.

We ducked into the local bakery as well, which was an old-school bakery such as I haven't seen in a while.

It had a lot of German style baked goods, but also all the old Ontario favourites: donuts, date turnovers, buttertarts, Chelsea buns, shortbread and more.

This little shop, Field of Greens, caught my eye, and we checked it out too.

They have a lot of the usual imported and health food type items as well as a good selection of vegetables. Not many local at this time of year, but the owner, Greg Miller, aims to get as much in as he can when they are in season. He also makes and bottles his own soups and sauces, and says he sells a lot of them. They looked good!

He makes and sells jams and other preserves as well. Pickles are something he makes in season, but they sell so fast that they are only available for a short time.

It's a small shop, but you could do quite a bit of the weekly shopping here.

All in all, we enjoyed this outing in spite of the dreadful weather. We would definitely go back next year. Maybe next time we will be up for one of their maple bush tours, which I'm afraid we skipped this time.


Anonymous said...

What a nice shout out to Elmvale! We usually go once a summer to check out the Elmvale Bakery (yum) and Field of Greens (yay)! There is also a nice small zoo for the kids. Good to know about the Maple Syrup Festival - I'll have to remember for next year. Any idea when the dark syrup will be available?

CallieK said...

I just don't get the appeal of dark syrup! To me it tastes too much like molasses and not like true maple syrup which is only ever light. My grandmother (born and raised in Quebec) used to call it 'fencepost" syrup, as in Ontario syrup is made by tapping fenceposts.

Ferdzy said...

Ikmnut, a zoo! I didn't know that. Dark syrup should be available soon... it all depends on a shift in the weather I think; it gets produced at the end of the season.

CallieK, well one of my treats when I was a little girl was a slice of good brown bread and butter, and a little dish of molasses to dip it in, so I have nothing against molasses! I also tend to prefer robust flavours in general, and finally the flavour holds up and comes through better if you are using it in cooking or baking.

But there you are. Apparently some people even prefer chicken breasts over the legs. There's just no explaining taste!

kate said...

The producers have syrup - light and dark - come up Highway 27, just before you get into town (past the zoo) turn east on Concession 8 - a few km down, you'll come to Greenlaw's and Lalonde's sugar bushes. Check out the sugar shacks they have candy and other good stuff too. It's true that maple syrup connisseurs prefer the light, which is purest. The dark is dark because of the impurities that are produced as the trees begin to bud out - but each to her own...

someone said...

Agree about the Elmvale Bakery! Love the Maple Syrup Festival!