With arctic blast wind chills below zero, there wasn’t much sap flowing for the 32nd annual Maine Maple Sunday. Despite the low flow, sugar shacks opened their doors and managed to please the throngs undaunted by the weather.

In Livermore, Boothby’s Orchard and Farm was celebrating its 150th year. The orchard is lead by Rob Boothby, sixth-generation owner. Bradford Boothby bought the land and the house that still stands there after the Civil War ended in 1865.

Guests checked out the evaporator as long as they could brave the winds before going in to the farm store, where they were treated to a wine tasting of three varieties grown, bottled and fermented on the farm.

Soon Boothby said the farm will be offering a red wine similar to a merlot thanks to the sturdy Marquette grapes, developed for cold weather in Minnesota and now a growing addition to the farm.

“It’s in an American oak barrel — we’re going to age that hopefully until September if we can keep out of it,” Boothby said. “We tasted it last night and it was very good. Then, we’re going to do a blend of apple and red, like a moscato.”

Boothby described the new phase of the farm as being in his “sophomore” year. “The first year I made, I think 400 gallons. Last year, we had a huge crop and I threw everything into it and I’ve got probably 1,500 gallons.”


With grape juices and concentrates for wine available, Boothby said he wants his farm to churn out only the best local products.

“We’re going to grow everything that we sell — that’s the goal,” Boothby said.

“We also have beef cows too; we’re going to start selling beef next fall,” Boothby said. “I love that part of the farm … so everything comes from here; we don’t import anything.”

The whole family came out to help Boothby in the store and the refurbished house, now used as a daily or weekly rental, where free corn chowder, baked beans and corn bread were served to warm up guests.

At Ricker Hill in Turner, Brianna Cote stood watch over the dwindling breakfast buffet of French toast, bacon and crepes; all snatched up as fast as they’re made. 

Steve Maheu was running the evaporator out back while crowds came and went — mostly to watch the billowing steam and hope somebody was pouring fresh syrup onto shaved ice to eat.


“We’re all part of the family here — I guess we’re going on 10 generations now,” Maheu said. “We all live next to one another so it’s all very much in the family.” Maheu said the minimal flow this spring made them save up two or three runs so they would have something for the public Sunday.

Maheu said the farm used to produce syrup but had stopped 40-50 years ago. He said he and his father-in-law, Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, reignited the tradition. Today, the sugar shack doors are from the old shack that still sits in the woods along with the mammoth original evaporator.

In Hebron, the lack of maple syrup didn’t sap spirits at Cabane a Sucre Bergeron, Jean Bergeron’s take on a traditional, family-run Quebec sugar house. About a decade ago, Bergeron, 55, and neighbor, Charlie Peroux, were engaged in a friendly arms race to see who had more maple trees, culminating in the Lewiston-native expanding his operations from a single small pan, hewing a cabin out of hemlock and installing a large wood-fired boiler. 

“It used to take me a quart of beer to get through boiling. Now I can do it in half a beer,” Bergeron said. 

Not far away, in a garage lined with fishing poles and hunting rifles, families danced as a live folk group played traditional French Canadian jigs and reels, a crowd of onlookers eating crepes and maple-flavored sausage. 

Yvette Rousseau, 79, a public school nurse in Lewiston, was dancing with her grandson when the band started on “Hava Nagila,” causing her to sway faster, keeping in rhythm the toe-tapping of spectators caught between digesting their second helping of crepes and the after-effects of coffee. 

Cindy Larock, on guitar and spoons, recalls the day three years ago when she stumbled across the sugar shack and discovered that Bergeron was the same man she’d taught to play guitar years ago. Her group, Maine Folque Co-op, has been playing every Maine Maple Sunday since. 

“We’re happy to keep the traditional French heritage alive. It brings the generations together,” Larock said. 

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