Lisa Bondurant

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I spend my time raising kids, gathering eggs, cutting wood, scoping out trees for tapping, making syrup in the last days of winter, watching my garden NOT grow in the summer, writing, wishing that there were more hours on the clock for sleeping.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Maple Festival coming soon!

The Highland County Maple Festival will be here soon!
This is a 2 weekend event and those dates are:
March 13-14 and the 20-21.
Check out the Highland County Chamber of Commerce site for information.
The maple fest is coming! We look forward to it like Christmas. I think it has something to do with having a sweet tooth. My sister Julia told me the other day,
"If it is dipped in sugar, people are going to eat it" and I think the folks in Highland County would agree, but they would say "If you dip it in maple syrup they will not only eat it, they will come and get it"
Head out early and be hungry. All along the twisting roads to Monterey, where the main festival is held you will find a dozen ways to fill your hunger. There will be all you can eat pancake breakfasts at firehouses, buckwheat pancakes also, maple dipped doughnuts, maple candy, vats of beans, chili and soup at some locations. Once there, if you choose to go to the town, you will see signs for trout dinners, pork & chicken dinners, pork rinds, kettle corn, country ham sandwiches. And did I mention the crafts? There are booths set up that offer fresh ground cornmeal, buckwheat, shitake mushroom plugs, handmade knives, and much more.
Of course the main attraction in town is the Mill Gap Ruritan doughnut trailer. Look for the line, it will be long on very cold years, very, very long in good weather. If you get in line to buy doughnuts, and you should, really! Then tell everyone near you that you will only be buying a dozen. This is when you will be able to pick out the "Maple Doughnutter" a hardcore, veteran of the maple fest. People who already know the magic of the Highland County Maple Doughnut. The secret, that I will tell you now is, once you take your first bite of the melt in your mouth golden ring, you to will be a "Doughnutter" in the making. You will recognize the vetern by the way they dress, layers upon layers to withstand the cold of waiting in line through any weather, and when they use the words "dozen doughnuts" it is always preceded by a large number. They come from all over, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and more. They will look at you and roll their eyes like "Yeah, right! Newbie! Just one?"
You will not be taken seriously! You will hear the talk then. The ridicule of those ahead that make a terrible mistake, not buying enough doughnuts!
"Looky there' one will nod and all serious doughnuters will glance towards the head of the line.
"One box!", and all will laugh, shaking their heads.
"Why bother showing up" the last part of this is said just loud enough for the offender to over hear. By now you are half way up the line and have seen the ill judgment you have exhibited. So you up your anti, say, maybe 3 dozen? You will get a shrug from the hard core maple doughnuters that maybe there is hope for you, but the proof to them will be in the end-of-the-line. By the time you near the end the line, the number will be somewhere between 4-5 dozen. Not only is your pride forcing the number higher, but the smell. The sent of hot oil that has just cooked fresh doughnut swirling through the cold mountain air promising sweet reward for your frigid torture.
Then finally you are there! You climb the steps and peer into the window to where the magic is made. Racks of rising doughnuts, being fussed over by flour covered volunteers. Vats of hot oil and rows of golden, just cooked doughnuts, dipped with long dowels into a pool of warm maple syrup glaze. The dowels are crusted a half inch thick with maple syrup from hundreds of dives into the syrup vat, where doughnuts take their finale swim. You have been waiting so long now that you might be tempted to bribe the cashier for a dowel to chew on like a giant lolly pop. But now there are more important matters. One, you can almost taste the doughnut that are just moments from being in your grasp. Two,the Doughnutters behind you have fallen silent, waiting to see what you will do next. You glance back and consider all at stake.
" I was going to get 5 dozen", you tell the man behind the window loudly, then pause for effect. "Give me 6"
"Now that's what I am talking about!", you hear from behind you. Soon you will leave the trailer with a stack of white pastry boxes so high you can't see around them, but the respect that you have earned from fellow maple doughnuters will be eminence. As you leave the line, peering around your still warm tower of boxes, throw them a nod and glance, say...
"See ya next year, same time, same place". You will leave proud, head high or at least bent to the side so that you can see. The other doughnuters will nod back their approval as they speak words of praise for the newest to join the club.
"Now that's a stack! Good job! Only serious doughnut eater need apply"
Do not despair if you do not want to go into town and be bruised by crowds, or maybe are intimidated by becoming a "Doughnuter" in your rookie year,there is always the "sugar tour". Pick up a map that marks the sugar camps that like visitors and start driving. And if you missed the doughnuts, Puffenbargers has fantastic doughnuts, as well as a state of the art new sugar house. Keep going and visit as many as you can, for all the sugar camps have something a little different to see. Eagle Camp is a sight to see. Tucked away in the woods with it's red board buildings. Firewood piled high to feed a wood fired arch. A great little store to feed your sweet tooth with syrup, maple creme, candy,... maple this, maple that, maple of any form! "Southern Most" in Bolar has pit cooked BBQ and their own BBQ sauce plus, again maple of every kind.
Go from camp to camp, or till you can not stomach the sweet smell of maple and smoke or frying doughnuts. Keep going till when you look in the back seat the kids are covered in crumbs and half eaten maple lolly pops stuck to their cheeks, whispering "No more! No more sugar"
Then you can go back home and dream of next years Maple Festival.

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