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Meyersdale gets spruced up for maple festival

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 2:02 p.m.

The community of Meyersdale, Somerset County, celebrates all things maple during its 67th annual Maple Festival from Wednesday through April 6.

Sue Decker, president of the Maple Festival, said the festival is not all about celebrating the past; it also celebrates the innovations within the maple industry.

“Somerset County is one of the top 10 maple producers in the country,” Decker said. “This festival will demonstrate the traditional ways of harvesting syrup — with taps and buckets. We also will demonstrate the innovations within the maple industry, including vacuum tubing, which makes it faster and easier to collect sap. It saves the producer time and expense. The producers can pass those savings to the consumers on the other side of the table.”

Decker also said technology has helped to promote the maple industry.

“The Internet has helped us enormously, “ she said. “It helps us get feedback as to what customers want. Many producers have online stores, which allows them to offer their products year-round.”

Encouraging young people to be a part of the festival is one of Decker's priorities.

“We have volunteers — mostly high school students — who come help set up for the festival.”

The festival features re-enactments from the French and Indian War, the Civil War and even World War II. People also can visit Dr. Creed Glass' Country Doctor's Office. This office showcases items from Meyersdale's first hospital, including a set of surgical instruments, a lab table, an early X-ray machine and viewing box. Dr. Glass and his wife, Hazel, found these items in the attic of the hospital, and donated them to the Pennsylvania Maple Festival. The attraction opened in 1973.

Next door, there is the Cobbler's Shop, which showcases many cobblers' instruments, including a sewing machine and numerous shoe patterns.

Railroad buffs will enjoy the model railroad exhibit at the Western Maryland Station. The exhibit will be open to the public, free of charge, during festival hours.

The Maple Manor, once owned by Peter Meyers, a leading citizen of Meyersdale during the early 1800s, adds some ambiance to the festival, with its original stone fireplaces and period decor. The original kitchen offers open-hearth cooking, butter churning and other demonstrations.

Julie Kretchman, a festival volunteer, said that Maple Manor once hosted a special guest.

“Ulysses Grant stayed here while he was campaigning for president,” Kretchman said. “President Grant later returned the hospitality of the Meyers family by inviting them to the White House.”

“Every moment of this festival is memorable,” she said. “It's wonderful to see people enjoying themselves.”

Admission is $5 per adult and $1 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under are free.

For more information, visit www.pamaplefestival.com.

Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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