What began as a rite of spring will continue April 28 and 29 when Franklinville hosts the 50th Western New York Maple Festival at and around Franklinville Elementary School.
Bob Wright, member of the organizing committee, said years ago “sugaring off parties” were held after maple producers finished their work of gathering sap from trees from which to make maple products.
The Franklinville event, he said, is a way to continue those celebrations. Wright should know.
His family members began a syrup-making business in 1840, and his grandfather was instrumental in beginning the group known as the Western New York Maple Producers that began a one-day celebration at the end of producing syrup.
The Franklinville Jaycee’s took over the festival and “ran with the idea,” Wright said. Even as the festival grew, however, his grandfather still sold product. Soon, Wright was involved too, he said, adding that materialized due to “the family thing.”
Although the festival offers numerous events, he said, he wants maple to be a focal point. He said people ask where milk comes from and can learn the answer, but, many don’t realize where maple comes from when they ask. He plans to teach them it is from a hardworking family with a farm and not a factory elsewhere. People once knew that, he said, adding, many had family with farms but are now generations removed.
That is not true for Wright and his family, who know a lot about maple. Wright was busy planning to share that knowledge this week. He was building a sugar house so he could explain to festival-goers just where maple comes from, along with offering them some maple pop and possibly some maple ice cream, too.
His family, he said, is one of the larger maple producers in the area. Wright Farms tapped 7,200 trees producing 862 gallons of syrup this year. In addition to celebrating the product his family has made for generations, they will continue to do so at the festival. It will also feature Saturday’s pancake breakfast, maple sales, a craft show, entertainment, 11 a.m. parade, historical society open house, business and school exhibits.
Events continue Sunday with an antique car show, Creekside Round Up demonstration and chicken barbeque along with some of the exhibits and shows that began Saturday.
A king and queen will also be crowned the Thursday of the festivities.
Last year about $15,000 was raised to support community organizations. Funds went to two graduating seniors as scholarships. Money went to the library, ministerium, for a clock in the park and more.
Funds raised at the festival will again be spread out throughout the community this year, said Wright.
“It’s a good way to support the community,” he said.
The festival is also a way to keep maple in the forefront, Wright said, adding it is something with which the community can identify. Maple products, he said, are only produced in the northeast and can’t be celebrated elsewhere.
“It’s a homegrown product,” he said. “It’s the first miracle of spring,” he said about producing maple products. These homegrown maples products will be celebrated where they are produced the last weekend in April.
The Western New York Maples Festival will be held at the Franklinville Elementary School on Rt. 16 in Franklinville. For more information about this event call 716-557-2498.