HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH MAPLE?
The Annual Warkworth Maple Syrup festival
The Warkworth Maple Syrup Festival is an event that is tradition for many, and an excuse to have a good sugar rush for the rest. Held every year for the past 31 years, during a time when the maple sap is normally running, this event draws people from far and wide, including us, to the quaint village of Warkworth, Ontario.
Driving to Warkworth is a visual feast, through rolling picturesque farmland, down into a valley where the village sits. Now it must be explained that the Maple Syrup Festival is 2 events in one.
On this weekend, in the village of Warkworth, the locals shake off winter and start the tourist season off with a strong start. There are lots of things to see in and do, in what is basically a big open-house. Nearby, is the Sandy Flats Maple Sugar Bush, where all of the maple-infused events take place. Free and frequent shuttle buses take visitors from the village to the sugar bush and back again.
Arriving in Warkworth, we parked our cars at one of the designated parking areas, and went to the free shuttle bus pick up area to get a ride to the sugar bush.
We all piled aboard the big yellow school bus, where we found ourselves laughing and joking with others. Everyone was in a great mood, even though they had not yet had any sugar. The bus ride was only about 5 minutes long, and we were there in no time.
When we arrived at the sugar bush, the good times continued. We watched maple syrup being made both traditionally in big cauldrons over a fire, and also by the more modern process in a big stainless steel vat.
Along with hoards of small children with sticky fingers, we watched as maple syrup was poured into the snow that we then rolled up onto popsicle sticks and ate as maple taffy. We had seconds. And thirds.
Once firmly buzzing with a sugar, we moved on to the log sawing competition, where we showed the rest of them how it’s done. When the sugar started to wear off, we headed to the stand spinning maple syrup cotton candy (Hello!) to top ourselves up.
Then we climbed up onto the wagon drawn by two big beautiful Clydesdale horses, for a leisurely ride through the maple sugar bush, eating our cotton candy as we went. Throughout the day, there is lots to see and do at the sugar bush – eat pancakes and sausages, watch or participate in snowshoe races, walk the hiking trails, join in the 3 person plank races, watch the cloggers and live music on the stage. There are lots of places to get warm at the sugar bush, as well as washroom facilities.
Having had our fill of all things maple syrup, we bought a couple of bottles of Sandy Flats Maple Syrup for the road and giddily hopped aboard the big yellow school bus shuttle back to Warkworth, to continue the festivities.
Within the village, there were even more things to do. We pet the pygmy goat, the bunnies, the lambs, the chickens and ducks at the petting zoo. Sara wanted to ride the miniature pony, but he was taking a much deserved break while we were there.
We watched the minstrel -dressed as a maple tree -play both the banjo and the harmonica as he walked around the village. We poked around in some of the lovely shops, including Camp Ho-Ba-Chee and Cheeky Bee Candle Co. and Gallery.
And had we had enough energy, we might have played indoor mini-golf at the United Church or seen the juried art and photography show or the craft show. But by then our sugar rush had become a crash, and it was time to go.
The Warkworth Maple Syrup Festival is held annually on the 2nd weekend of March in the village of Warkworth Ontario. It is managed by volunteers, is exceptionally well run, and is a great way to spend a March day.