Monday, March 23, 2009

Myrple Syrple Festival

We took a lovely drive to the mountains of Meyersdale, PA yesterday for the Pennsylvania Maple Festival. I'm not sure how Mark discovered the festival's existence, but once he did, he was an unstoppable force.
'They show you how to make maple syrup!' he'd exclaim. And 'Who wants to go to the Myrple Syrple Festival!' Never mind that he already knows how it's made. Or that he's seen the whole operation at the farm where our syrup for the market comes from. Or that I'm pretty sure he's tapped trees himself.
Anywho, I'm glad he insisted we all go. Mawsi and Pops came along and there is always some bit of charm that follows us whenever we all go somewhere together. Parking spaces magically appear, the sun shines, and there are always friendly dogs to pet.
Somewhere around the Mason-Dixon Line we saw these beauties: I want one so bad. I've only had one company get back to me with a quote. Tens of thousands of dollars I believe. I still want one.
Our first scheduled stop was the Lions Pancake and Sausage breakfast in the community center gymnasium. You're ushered in to sit elbow to elbow with other folks at long cafeteria tables. You help yourself to a carton of orange drink or a cup of coffee from the carafes on the table. There are pitchers of maple syrup and Styrofoam plates of butter pats. A plate of 3 fluffy pancakes and 2 fat links of homemade sausage are brought to you and you're allowed 1 plate of seconds. None of us were man enough to order seconds.
And if it's your 7th birthday, one of the Maple Queen's court will give a shout 'Princesses! We have a birthday!' and all the princesses will gather round to sing a lovely rendition of 'Happy Birthday.' How sweet was that? They should be proud of their princesses. Very nice girls, every one of them. Not sure who that lady in green is, but she was a good sport!

After carb-loading, we headed out to check out the sights. A pretty mural. Inside the festival park, we also saw a blacksmith. I thought of you, OsageBluffQuilter (and OsageBluffBlacksmith!)

We saw a woman 'washing butter' after she'd churned it. Learned about 'coopers' and how they put a barrel or bucket together. Heard a song played on a Hammer Dulcimer. Mark groaned when he saw it 'Oh great, I'll never get you out of here now.' Such magical music!
Here's how they'd haul the sugar water collected from the trees back to the sugar shack for cooking down into syrup and sugar.Here's inside the sugar shack. It takes a long time to make syrup this way. This is spotza. I'd never had it before. The maple syrup is cooked to a soft ball candy stage, drizzled over shaved ice and you eat it with your little wooden stick. Sugar, sugar, sugar!

Here's Lil tapping a 'tree.' First you drill a hole, then you tap in your spile and hang your bucket.There was quite a bit more, but I didn't take enough pictures. Too shaky from all the sugar.And from the start I got when this guy fired his muzzle loader up into the air

On our way home we stumbled upon the Casselman River Bridge so we got out to have a look. Really pretty and the longest stone arch in it's day back in 1813.

We saw a lot of beautiful farms on our way home through the mountains. Immaculate picture-perfect spreads. And much to our surprise, we saw these bad boys:Texas Longhorns on the top of a mountain. I told you things got magical when Mawsi & Pops come along.

Myrple Syrple!


OsageBluffquilter said...

WE wish we hada been with you for the Maple festival!!!
For the blacksmith shop, (thanks for posting the picture).
For the hammer dulcimer, I've always wanted one.
The muzzleloaders, we use to shoot them in competition, period clothing and all, BT even builds them.
Are you sure we aren't long lost twins?

honeypiehorse said...

Want pancakes NOW.

Amy said...

Now I have that "Sugar Shack" song in my head. And I want pancakes tooooo.

That sounds like lots of fun! Such a slice of Americana. Love it.

Annette said...

What a great way to spend a day. Have you come down from your sugar high yet?

Sara said...

I sometimes like to think that I'm too cool for festivals and pancake breakfasts, but I'm definitely not.

We had a really swell time, and I don't want no mo' candy for a while!

Camp Papa said...

Love the bridge.

When I was a kid, I used to watch the inmates of an Alabama prison farm make syrup from cane they had grown and harvested. A whole different vibe...a little less festive when there are mounted guards with shotguns.

Coffee with Cathy said...

What a wonderful day! This so reminded me of family day trips when I was young. My parents would drag us out to all sorts of educational sites and festivals and of course I didn't appreciate it then. And neither did my own daughters when I did the same thing, although now in their 20s, they finally get it.

Becky said...

Looks like a fun day, and yes, such an Americana feel to it.

Speaking of which, my Dad wants us all to go to some PawPaw festival in Ohio in September. Did I already tell you this? I think a pawpaw is a fruit?

And I can't figure out why he is so set on it! But I guess it would be blog fodder. . .

Camp Papa said...

It's not "some" pawpaw festival. It is the 11th Annual Ohio Pappaw Festival! The pawpaw is just the largest native North American tree fruit. FYI, chilled pawpaw was George Washington's favorite dessert. Everyone who loves America should go to at least one Pawpaw Festival.

Did I mention that there will be pawpaw beer? God bless America!