Today was Maine Maple Sunday in Maine! On this day the sugar houses generously open their doors to visitors, often providing pancake breakfasts, ice cream, and an astonishing variety of yummy maple treats. Normally on Maine Maple Sunday, we visit a variety of nearby sugar houses, but because I was spending half of the day doing the craft fair at the West Minot Grange, I only visited one. But what a GOOD one!
First, though, about the craft fair…
Old Grange halls are an endangered species. I moved to Maine fifteen years ago from Pennington, NJ, the formerly rural and agricultural town where my husband grew up. I well remember my heartbreak when the Pennington Grange was torn down to make way for a modern (and completely excessive) town hall. It was one of many disappointments that solidified our determination to raise our four sons in an area where agriculture and heritage were held more dear. I can not say that the old Grange tradition is completely safe in Maine either nowadays, but we do have some beautiful old examples. One of these is the West Minot Grange.
Here is a little history of this Grange from the Minot town website: “West Minot Grange #42 was organized in 1874; the petition to form was signed on Calvin Bucknam’s tall silk hat. This Grange also operated a grange Store at one time. Today this Grange is very active and has allowed the Minot Historical Society, which formed in 2001, to use a room in their building for storage.”
This gorgeous old building was the site of today’s craft fair. I was invited to participate by the uber talented Pat Hutter, who also makes our “Wool Collector” signs as well as wooden signs for Sturbridge Yankee Workshop. I had a great time and have to give a huge thank you to Pat for organizing a very successful and fun event.
Of course, one of the reasons we had so many wonderful visitors to the craft fair was because downstairs on the main level of the Grange, Slattery’s Farm and Maple Supply Company was putting on a fantabulous pancake breakfast. I have to tell you, I love Slattery’s. If there is anything at all you need for maple syruping, home canning, gardening, livestock, or just surviving Maine winters, Slattery’s has it. They also produce many crops all summer long and sell beautiful produce from the store. Here are some pics of the Grange I took the afternoon before as it was all set up for the breakfast. I do not have pics of the breakfast because I was upstairs meeting and greeting!
After the craft show was over and I packed up my things, it was time to go over to the nearby West Minot Sugar House, also owned by the Slattery family. This is a truly wonderful sugar house. They were also serving meals over there (breakfast AND lunch), along with ice cream with maple syrup.
When you enter the sugar house during a normal year, you are immediately hit with a warm, wonderful steam from the evaporator as it boils down the sap in to maple syrup. This year, however, everything still looks like this…
Slattery’s owner explained to visitors that for the sap to really run, you need a good string of 40 degree days. That has not happened in any part of Maine yet this season. As a result, a good number of sugar houses were not able to run the evaporators on this particular Maine Maple Sunday. However, that did not stop them from serving up the golden goodness.
In fact, on Maine Maple Sunday it is customary to drink maple syrup directly out of a cup. You read that right. Directly out of a cup. Hey, I’ve been super clean diet sugar free for a long time now but you know what? I did it. And I’d do it again. Cheers!
Of course, if you prefer your maple in solid form, there’s this…
One of the truly charming things Slattery’s provides on Maine Maple Sunday is draft horse drawn wagon rides by Meadow Creek Farm. I caught them just as they were putting Bill and Ben, the horses, in to the trailer. They shook and rang their jingle bells while I was photographing them. I love draft horses.
As if it isn’t enough to provide food, maple products and education, and horse drawn carriage rides, this event also includes music.
To view a short video of these guys playing “You Are My Sunshine,” click HERE.
This was a really wonderful event, and as I said, special thanks are in order to Pat Hutter, craft fair coordinator and member of the West Minot Grange, and to the Slattery family who worked so hard to make a lovely event (and kindly sent my husband upstairs with a free coffee for me). Thanks also to everyone I met today, and especially those who sat down to give hooking a try for the very first time! I would be remiss if I did not mention a little girl named Alex who sat down and pulled perfect loops on her first try. And I mean perfect.
This is what community is all about. That move we made to rural Maine was and continues to be so rewarding. Please come up and visit some March for Maine Maple Sunday, and experience this day first hand. Happy hooking! – Beth