Mary Ann Hayes has worked the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival in one capacity or another for 11 years. Her dedication has been valuable, but comes at a small personal price — she’s never actually seen a Syrup Festival parade.
Mary Ann, wife of new Maple Syrup Corporation Festival President, Steve Hayes, is hoping her new support role will provide a small change.
“I’ve never seen the parade before, or the princess pageant,” Mary Ann said. “I might actually get to step away from the cotton candy machine at Maple Manor and get to see some of that this year.”
It’s a small trade off for all of the hard work she and Steve have taken on in their new roles this year. Steve, who has served as vice president under Gene Fisher for more than a decade, has gotten a taste of all the responsibility that comes with the organization’s lead role.
“There are a lot of things we never realized Gene Fisher did behind the scenes,” Mary Ann said. “There’s a lot more going on than Steve and I ever imagined.”
Mary Ann said Gene and his wife Mary have been more than helpful in making sure there is a smooth transition.
“It’s been nice to have Gene help us out along the way,” she said. “There have been a lot of breakfast meetings to make sure nothing gets missed.”
Of course the festival doesn’t happen each year without the dedication of a number of volunteers. The 77th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival will take place Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30 in downtown Vermontville. Mary Ann said the festival will remain much the same this year with a few minor tweaks here and there to the schedule. She is excited to report that the craft show is completely booked, and will feature a number of new vendors this year.
She said a new musical act — Dale A. Dickson and Sons — will perform Saturday following the grand parade and again on Sunday. She and Steve met Dickson while attending an open mic night at Windwalker Underground Gallery in Charlotte.
“He was really excited about the opportunity,” Mary Ann said. “He has a lot of his own songs he’s written over the years, but will also perform some country and older rock ‘n’ roll covers.”
This year’s festival officially gets underway with the opening ceremonies on Friday, April 28 at 6 p.m. on the main stage.
Included in the Friday festivities is the annual talent competition, which features a number of local acts showcasing a variety of skills. You will also find some of the best pancakes around being served up by the American Legion and Nashville Lions Club at the American Legion (located above Independent Bank) from 4 to 8 p.m. or the Maple Valley Band Boosters at the fire station from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
As always, Mid-America Shows will be on hand providing entertainment on the “Midway,” including rides and games for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Start Saturday off right with a second helping of pancakes smothered in your favorite syrup. The American Legion, Lions and band boosters begin serving pancakes at 7 a.m. and will serve them throughout the day. The community is filled with activity all day long, including the Vermontville arts and crafts show, flea market, a petting zoo, performance by the Maple Valley Jazz Band, Maple Valley Choir and the Glen Erin Bagpipe Band, among others. The children’s parade: “Fun Things to do at the Syrup Festival” takes center stage at 11 a.m. The grand parade begins at 3 p.m.
The celebration continues through Sunday as the streets of Vermontville will be filled with attractions such as various displays, games, free entertainment and arm wrestling. Local syrup producers are located throughout the village selling syrup, candies, crème and the ever-popular maple syrup cotton candy.
Of course, you can learn all about the Maple Syrup process throughout the weekend at Maple Manor, where a number of exhibits showcase the tradition and history.
For more information on the 77th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, visit www.VermontvilleMapleSyrupFestival.org or call toll free (888) 482-8780.