Exactly six years ago, we celebrated Sandra’s birthday in a very special way by attending a Maple Syrup Festival in a barn in the woods of Western Pennsylvania. As an Ecuadorian and later a Floridian , this was a very “American” experience for her. We took a bus driven by an obese man in fake Ray Bands with a lot of other obese Steelers fans to the main site. From there, we entered a barn, paid $5.00 and then feasted on our choice of buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup and sides of sausage.
Being the poor and scavenging college students we were, Nina and I “saved” some pancakes for later when we would inevitably be working late in studio. Apologies to the pancake people for this tiny misdemeanor. Meanwhile, Akil and Trevor gorged on sausages. Boy Scouts and troop leaders meandered the aisles of tables and chairs, offering endless plates of pancake refills. When we finally threw in the napkins, we were in such a comatose stupor, we had no energy left to take advantage of the Civil War reenactments.
For years, I thought about that festival. There were three years when I was abroad in the springtime and far, far away from maple festivities. Then there were years when the thought came to me too late. This year was different!
This year, I very resolutely started marking my calendar in the winter time, knowing the rough dates of the maple syrup festival. As it turns out, there are multiple in this area, including one with a “Miss Maple” pageant. When I hone my pageant talents, my face will be among those little maplettes next year! My internet searches and calendar reminders finally led me to the Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival.
There was some excitement amongst some of my coworkers when I mentioned the idea of eating pancakes and real syrup in a barn in the woods, but as the weekend approached, the enthusiasm seemed to be waning. I was not about to miss this festival, so I dug deep and did some convincing!
Mike was mostly on board, but at the last minute asked me, “but what is really so special about this? Couldn’t we just eat pancakes somewhere else?” I couldn’t possibly explain the full magnitude of what he was about to experience, but I gave him my word that this would be a very different pancake memory.
Sunday morning we met at the local coffee spot, divided into vehicles and drove through bleak, post-industrial landscapes and suburban stretches to arrive at a very magical place. The pictures will give a glimpse of why I had waited so long for this moment!
On Monday morning, Mike asked me, “Did you feel kind of sick after the festival?”
No way! I learned the havoc of major pancake binging six years ago.
On a different note, there was a little wager made during the long lines and waiting for pancakes. Which type of pancake would our Director of Manufacturing eat first: buckwheat or buttermilk? With a traditional Southern fella, my bet was on the buttermilk, and I nailed it (as did Nial). This means, there is another pancake story yet to come, one in which Julia and Ted prepare pancakes of Nial and my grain/milk choice. All in all, this was a very successful experience!