You just never know what you’ll find in small town America. Our country is dotted with small towns, yet all the attention goes to the glamorous (or not so) big cities. We’ve lived in both. I kind of like the small town, as long as I’m within 5 minutes from a grocery store, and a Taco Bell.
This past weekend we attended one of the great small town festivals – Vermontville’s Maple Syrup Festival, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the idea for a Maple Syrup Festival was discussed in 1940 in the local barbershop, the locale for all great small town ideas. If you don’t believe me, watch some Andy Griffith. According to the 2000 census, Vermontville’s population was just under 800. It is the epitome of Small Town, U.S.A. with a quaint little library, the requisite few churches and a tree-lined downtown street. The Syrup Festival started as a way to promote the town’s local maple syrup producers, and it has turned into a weekend full of carnival rides, games, parades, craft shows, and of course – all things maple. I’m convinced that all 800 residents show up, along with many more from surrounding towns.
Take your pick of all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts, naturally. We sat in the bays of the local firehouse and doused our pancakes with all the syrup our sweet tooth could handle. If that’s not enough maple for you, walk down the street and get some maple flavored cotton candy, or maple cream, or maple candy that is so sweet you can’t eat a whole piece in one sitting. And if you don’t get your fix at the festival, here’s a page full of recipes that you can use with the jugs of syrup you purchased. I personally am intrigued by the maple sauerkraut.
We sat in the grand stands for the parade which consisted mostly of politicians shaking hands and tossing candy in hopes of gaining votes this fall, local residents showing off their sports car of choice, the jr high and sr high bands, and tractors. Lots and lots of tractors. I do think the tractors were my favorite part, especially the orchard tractor. It makes me want to have an orchard just so I can drive a pimped out, low-rider orchard tractor. While wearing a pink cowboy hat, of course. But the funniest part of the parade was when the emcee called one politician a “she” who was actually a “he.” His notes were a little inaccurate. It made the parade that much more entertaining!
However, the most memorable part of the day happened while eating our pile of pancakes. An older man walked in wearing a hat made out of an entire fox’s skin – head, 4 legs, body and tail. The kids sat and stared at him wide-eyed. He caught their eye and told them they could pet his hat, which Little Miss did. As we were headed out, my path took me past his chair and he looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “My hat is named after you – Foxy!!” I laughed about that all day long. I asked him the story of his hat, and he was more than happy to tell. I mean, really, you wear a hat like that because you want to draw attention to yourself . He said he makes walking sticks and a few years back a man wanted a stick but didn’t have any money, so he traded the man a walking stick for the fox hide and a tooth from a grizzly bear (which he was wearing around his neck). The fox was an Alaskan red fox, and he found a place in Minnesota that turned it into a hat, which has to be the warmest hat ever. And now you know if you ever end up with a random fox hide, turn it into a hat and you’ve already got the best come-on line ever!
Are there any festivals that your family likes to frequent? Please share!