Maggie Morgan of Bowdoinham pulls off her hood as she comes in from Saturday’s storm during Maine Maple Sunday weekend at Maple Rush Sugar House in Sabattus. “We never miss Maine Maple Weekend,” says Morgan. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

As Maine was swept into a “false spring” dinger of a snowstorm, some 100 sugarhouses and farms throughout the state did their best to kick off the 41st Maine Maple Sunday Weekend on Saturday.

Most were not disappointed.

Alexis Merrifield of Merrifield Farm in Gorham said though they had to cancel their breakfast and activities Saturday morning, they still had a steady trickle of people coming through the door seeking their maple fix. She said they kept their museum, sugar house and coffee and pastries shed open and were seeing plenty of foot traffic.

Snow covers sap buckets Saturday at Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse during Maine Maple Sunday Weekend. “Not great, but not bad,” farm owner Pat Jillson says about this year’s maple season. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“Everyone’s still coming out to get their iced coffees, even in the blizzard … and there have been a ton of kids with their snow pants on playing at our playground,” Merrifield said. “Gorham police have been great helping cars get parked and making sure everyone stays out of the way of the plows.”

Merrifield, also secretary for the Maine Maple Producers Association, said she couldn’t speak for all 106 sugar houses, but all the owners she spoke with had theirs up and running to celebrate the industry’s seminal event, despite the snow.

Velvet Hollow Sugar Works in Greenwood in Oxford County is nestled between Bryant, Twitchell and Indian ponds near the base of Christopher Mountain. Suzanne Dunham, owner of the Velvet Hollow and Dunham Farm with her husband, Brian, said they didn’t expect to get anyone due to weather, so they were pleasantly surprised when they had a count of 30 people by 3 p.m.


Dunham said she is used to getting mostly local people patronizing their business, but they were also getting customers as far as an hour and a half away cruising through the snow for their maple fix. Among the dozens who made it out to the Dunhams’, a group of eight drove five hours from Cape Cod to make sure they got helpings of a real Maine maple breakfast.

Osiris Morgan of Bowdoinham samples maple syrup Saturday during Maine Maple Sunday Weekend at Maple Rush Sugar House in Sabattus. Despite Saturday’s snowstorm, visitors still came out to visit the sugar shack. “It’s been an odd season,” according to owner Jordan Davis. Maple sap running at the beginning of February, low sugar content, no snow and then a winter storm on Maine Maple Sunday weekend. “It’s been brutal. It’s not an eraser, but it might as well be,” Davis says about the storm that caused many people to stay home on what is traditionally the sugar house’s busiest weekend of the year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“They stayed overnight in Portland and came up today specifically because our facility is a dedicated gluten-free kitchen,” Dunham said. “It almost brought tears to my eyes that they did all of that to come up here and have our pancake breakfast.”

Like most sugarhouse owners, Jordan Davis of Maple Rush Sugar House in Sabattus didn’t expect to get more than a handful of customers. However, between “die-hard fans” and families new to Maple Rush, Davis said turnout was fantastic despite the weather. Maple Rush features products from eight vendors and food from two food trucks, Crepe Elizabeth and Lucky Cat Coffee Truck, he said.

Scott Jillson shovels the walkway Saturday in front of Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse during Maine Maple Sunday weekend. “I don’t remember ever having a snowstorm on Maine Maple weekend,” says Jillson. The weekend is traditionally the farm’s strongest sales day of the year, so Jillson says he hopes the weather improves for Sunday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Some 40 to 50 people came out to Maple Rush for Maine Maple Sunday Weekend, but most were not sticking to one sugarhouse, Davis said — many made the rounds to several area sugarhouses including Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse and Pep’s Pure Maple Syrup, both also in Sabattus.

“A lot of people come to Sabattus just to try the three different sugarhouses and this year, I would have thought people might have said, ‘let’s just go to one sugar house.’ But, hey, I guess there’s just some people that really want to do it.”

Sadie Davis, left, fills spoons with maple syrup for a Lisbon family Saturday during Maine Maple Sunday Weekend at Maple Rush Sugar House in Sabattus. Despite Saturday’s snowstorm, visitors still came out to visit the sugar shack. Family members from right are Deandra Wesley, Taneisha Landy, Akasmine Murchison, Akirah Murchison and Akaya Murchison. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Merrifield, Dunham and Davis highlighted the importance of the annual event for the income it brings to sugarhouses. At the peak of the sap running season, Merrifield calls it a “holiday” while Davis calls it the maple world’s “Superbowl.”

Maple Rush Sugar House is seen during Saturday’s snowstorm in Sabattus during Maine Maple Sunday Weekend. “I thought the season was done a week ago, but here we are,” says Maple Rush Sugar House owner Jordan Davis of Sabattus. Jordan says that due to the low sugar content in this season’s sap, he needs to boil about 100 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of syrup. He boils about 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup during a typical year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“Maple is a very large growing industry in Maine and us maple farmers are just hoping to push the homemade maple products out into our communities instead of the fake syrup at the grocery store. This is the one day a year we get to show off all the hard work we do,” he said.

Saturday events are just a warmup for most maple producers in Maine, the three said. Sunday is the main event.

For more information on area sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers Association website.

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