Pictured: Queen Natalie Racine and her alternate, Garnet Sheridan


Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

It’s a sure sign of spring when the maple syrup is flowing, the pancakes are flipping, and the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival is on. The 80th annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25, in downtown Vermontville.
Concessions are being made this year for safety reasons, while still offering a fun time for all. Activities will take place outside and on a smaller scale. The usual COVID precautions are encouraged, including mask-wearing, using the hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the event and practicing proper social distancing. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs if needed to events, as there will be very limited seating. Visitors are discouraged from attending in large groups.
Festival organizers have worked closely with the Barry Eaton Health Department for safe festival layout plans, adjusting the traffic flow so that there is less chance of crossing paths with others, and with hand sanitizer placement.
“We’re hoping for a good day, good weather, and for people to be safe,” said organizer Mary Ann Hayes. Hayes, with her husband, Steven, have been co-chairing the event for six years. Steven has been involved as chairman of the event for 20 years or so, after offering to help at the event. They live in Charlotte.
“Be safe, be patient, we’re doing this on a different level this year,” Hayes said, encouraging festival attendees to remember the situation we are all in. “Help us be successful and have a safe event.”
Natalie Racine, 18, from Vermontville, was selected as the 2021 Maple Syrup Festival queen. Garnet Sheridan is her alternate (See photo on pg. 11). Queen candidates are required to be Maple Valley juniors or the relative of a maple syrup producer that is a high school junior. The winner receives a $500 scholarship to pursue their education, whether it is a four-year university, community college, or any other educational endeavor after high school, such as culinary or trade school.
The Festival craft show is considered one of Michigan’s earliest and best craft shows. Shoppers are reminded to wear a mask when they approach a vendor display. There will be a craft show both days downtown, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. A flea market will also be held at the Community Center on both days.
“We’re taking a non-traditional approach to the normal events,” Hayes said. “And several new additions to our events have come up in the last week or so.”
There will be an egg race for adults and children, where the participants carry a raw egg through an obstacle course. Prizes will be awarded for those who are successful. Also on the schedule is a pancake flipping contest that involves singing a song if you drop the pancake.
The Maple Valley Community Buck Pole Contest happens on Saturday afternoon. The event, normally held in the fall, was canceled in 2020 due to COVID, so this is the opportunity to bring in the antlers of their buck for judging. Prizes will be awarded.
Another new event is a corn hole tournament which will be held at the ball field on Saturday afternoon. A kid’s pedal tractor pull will be held at the stage on Sunday afternoon. The Maple Valley Band will be performing at the stage downtown.
Maple syrup and all the traditional maple syrup products will be available at the Festival. Hayes highly recommends the maple syrup cotton candy: “Once you’ve tried it you’ll never want the regular stuff again!”
“The festival is 100% on, right now,” Hayes said.
For more information and a complete schedule of events for the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, visit their website at vermontvillemaplesyrupfestival.org.