WHITINGHAM -- With construction under way at the former elementary and middle school, venues for the Maple Festival have changed but an artisan tour was added.

"It's probably eight or nine local artisans opening their houses or studios in town, sharing their art," said festival committee chairwoman Carol Mandracchia. "It's brand new and an inaugural year, which we're hoping to expand next year."

The 16th Annual Whitingham Maple Festival will be held on March 22 and 23. Traditionally, sugar makers show off their operations during the festival. Artisans will join this year's showcase.

"The tour is just to give flavor of what people do in our local little town and give another avenue of sharing what goes on in Vermont besides sugaring," added Mandracchia. "We have a lot of talent in those hills and we get a good response for the sugaring."

Due to construction at the school building, the arts and crafts fair will be smaller to fit the two venues. Since its inception in 2000, the arts and crafts fair was part of the annual festival.

"Next year, we'll be back in the old location," said Mandracchia. "We couldn't accept as my crafters this year."

Demonstrations of quilting, pottery, jewelry making and spinning will be on display at the Whitingham Community Church as well as other various places in town. An arts and craft fair will be held at the Jacksonville Fire Station next to the Jacksonville Municipal Center.

The pancake breakfast was also part of the festival's earliest days. The Lions Club always hosts the Saturday breakfast while different local organizations have hosted it on Sunday.

Brochures are available at www.Whitingham-MapleFest.us and can be obtained during the festival at the information booth at the Jacksonville Municipal Center. There is a schedule of events, a map of sugar houses open for visitation, recipes, driving directions and more printed on the website. Artisans are included on the map as well.

Mandracchia told the Reformer that two weeks ago, sugar makers thought they'd be on target but the cold weather has seemed to push their schedules back.

The cooking contest was canceled for this year's festival due to limited space.

"It will come back bigger and better next year. We have a chairperson in place who is motivated to carry that tradition on," said Mandracchia.

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

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the location of the craft fair.