Meyersdale rolls out red carpet for Maple Festival
By Barbara Starn
Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Some old friends were sitting around a potbelly stove nearly 70 years ago in Meyersdale, Somerset County, when singer Kate Smith sent out a request via her radio program for some genuine Vermont maple syrup. These gentlemen decided to send Smith some locally produced syrup, instead, to prove that it was as good as syrup from New England. Smith loved this syrup, and the Pennsylvania Maple Festival was born. Local pride in maple production runs deep during the 66th annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival, which continues through today.
Melissa Friend, a festival organizer, said that the region has a long tradition of maple production.
“We're the fifth-largest producer of maple products in the state,” Friend said. “Maple production is a second source of income for many people. As the price of syrup rose and maple production became more profitable, more people began to produce maple products.”
Fred DiPasquale, also a festival organizer, said, “This festival celebrates our local heritage of maple production and of the town itself. It lets people know that there are maple producers outside of Vermont.”
DiPasquale said that the festival will offer many things, including historical re-enactments from Native Americans, the Civil War and World War II. There will be a cobbler's shop, a doctor's office and a sugar camp. Tours of Maple Manor, the oldest dwelling in Meyersdale, will be available. The musical, “The Legend of the Magic Water,” will tell the story of how Native Americans first discovered how sap from maple trees could be boiled down into syrup.
Kyle Hillegas, a maple producer, said that Somerset County has the right conditions for maple productions.
“We're the right elevation; maple trees grow well here,” Hillegas said. “Also, the temperatures do not rise too quickly, which is good for sap production. “
He said that maple production has changed over the years.
“People use to have sugar camps to produce maple products for their own use,” Hillegas said. “Now that maple production is more profitable, maple production has become more industrial.
Hillegas offers advice to beginning maple producers.
“Start small,” he said. “The start-up cost of the equipment for maple production can be expensive. Learn how things work. Take classes.”
Hillegas said that there is a strong demand for maple products.
“More people want natural sweeteners. They want to know where those products come from.”
Friend enourages people to come to the festival and learn more about maple production.
A small admission fee of $5 adults, $1 for children ages 6-12, and free admission for children 5 and under is necessary to enter Maple Festival Park. Admission to “Legend of the Magic Water” requires a small admission fee. Parking is available throughout the town of Meyersdale. Food and drinks are available inside the festival park, along Main and Center Streets. Restaurants and some churches and service organizations will provide meals.
Barbara Starn is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Orpik out, Neal to have phone hearing
- Steelers’ playoff hopes all but gone in loss to Dolphins
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu teaches Tannehill lesson
- Wrestling attendance record falls as Penn State tops Pitt
- Likely loss of Steelers draft pick looms because of Tomlin misstep
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Worst of winter storm expected to miss Pittsburgh
- Maine WCTU chapter takes low-key approach to abstinence
- Breaking down the Pirates’ needs entering winter meetings
- State police kill knife-wielding suspect in child abduction from Brentwood
- Donora woman found dead in burning home