Wednesday March 13, 2013

WHITINGHAM -- Seven or eight sugarmakers are going to open their doors on March 23 and 24 for the public to share the art and science of their maple creations.

"It fosters a lot of community and shows what a small town can do," said Whitingham Maplefest organizer Carol Mandracchia. The Maplefest is celebrating its 15th year.

The information booth at the Whitingham Elementary/Twin Valley Middle School will open at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. This is where those who attend can get maps to visit the sugar houses.

Tours of the sugar houses will be open to the public and hours will vary. There is no cost to visit the houses.

"When it started in 2000, a group of people wanted to promote Whitingham and Jacksonville," said Mandracchia. "They all did different types of items, jewelry, pottery and things like that. And there’s a winery in town. In order to get us on the map, a group got together to promote the town. The sugarmakers came forward and thought it’d be a good time for people to come up and see what goes on and it’s evolved since then."

On Saturday, people will compete in a maple recipe contest from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Whitingham Elementary and Middle School.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, a craft fair will be held at the school. And on Sunday, the craft fair will go from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thirty-five to 40 crafters and artists will be set up in the school gym.

"They’ll run the gamut from fiber artists to pottery artists to wood making some homemade crafts like dolls and wooden items like furniture," said Mandracchia. "There are a variety of different kinds of items."

There will be children’s activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along with entertainment.

Weather permitting, there will be horse-drawn sleigh rides in the field adjacent to the Whitingham School. It will run on donations.

Around 400 people are expected to join in some of the festivities during the weekend.

On Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., there will be a pancake breakfast hosted by the Lions Club at the Jacksonville Municipal Center. On Sunday, a pancake breakfast hosted by the American Legion will go from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the same place.

Visitors are encouraged to stay at the local inns in town and support the area.

For prices and more information visit, whitingham-maplefest.us or e-mail, info@whitinghammaplefest.com.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.