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Maple Festival

 

2021 Highland County Maple Festival Cancelled, But Maple Syrup Still Flows

January 15, 2021:  The Highland County Chamber of Commerce has made the decision to officially cancel both weekends of the 2021 Highland County Maple Festival, originally scheduled for March 13-14 and 20-21, 2021. This announcement is made with heavy hearts after months of deliberation, input, and research for how to safely hold the event given the current state guidelines concerning the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

In a typical year, the Maple Festival draws thousands of people daily throughout the county in densely packed crowds. The current Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines restrict mass events to a total of 250 people, including all staff, vendors and volunteers. The Chamber alone coordinates over 100 vendors throughout downtown Monterey, the Highland County Public School System, and McDowell as part of the festival. Even though the majority of the overall festival takes place outside, the state requirements of crowd control, social distancing and extensive cleaning processes in these high traffic areas is just not feasible. The state guidelines require that “establishments must either implement the … mandatory requirements or remain closed.”

The Chamber worked for months to determine workable paths forward, even amidst changing guidelines that became more and more restrictive through winter. We had sincerely hoped for a different outcome. Although there is hope in the near future for vaccines to finally put the pandemic behind us, the Chamber has to focus on the current guidelines and health situation, particularly in our community where over one-third of our citizens are aged 65 and older. We miss our visitors and vendors, and we want to have a festival that meets the public’s expectations. We cannot predict or rely on speculation of what March will hold to make our plans, so rather than focusing on a Maple Festival in 2021 that has the risks outweighing the benefits, the Chamber feels it is best to wait and put our full efforts into 2022. Although this is difficult in the short-term, we feel it is best for the long-term success of the festival.

Thankfully, the coronavirus does not stop the sugar water flowing from the trees, nor does it stop our county’s dedicated producers from producing their maple syrup as they have done for decades. Even though the festival is cancelled, certain Chamber member businesses and organizations, including sugar camps, have made plans to be open in the late winter and spring, following the state guidelines specific to their designated business type. More information about Chamber member offerings will be forthcoming at www.highlandcounty.org in the coming weeks and months.

Once again, The Highland County Chamber of Commerce fully understands the immense and overwhelmingly negative implications that will occur to the local economy, businesses, school system, nonprofits, civic organizations, churches, individuals, vendors, and visitors, as well as the Chamber of Commerce itself, based upon two years of these unprecedented and undesirable decisions. However, we are fully committed to holding the Highland County Maple Festival in the future when it is safe and viable to do so. The festival has occurred with so much hard work and dedication from so many talented people for over 60 years. The Chamber is dedicated to keeping that legacy alive and continuing this tradition for many years to come for future generations. We look forward to being back stronger than ever in 2022.

The Highland County Chamber of Commerce advises the public to continue to follow the coronavirus safety guidelines outlined at the following websites: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/, https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/, and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.

 

Frequently-asked-questions about the 2021 Maple Festival cancellation:

Q: The 2021 festival is cancelled. Will Highland County producers still make maple syrup this year?
A: Yes! The coronavirus does not stop the sugar water flowing from the trees, nor does it stop our county’s dedicated producers from producing their maple syrup as they have done for decades. In speaking with 11 local Highland County syrup producers, each one will continue producing syrup in 2021, with some even increasing production. Many of the producers sell their products online. You can find contact information about them at https://members.highlandcounty.org/member-directory/Search/maple-196831?cid=189889. 8 local producers participate in the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail, which allows for a more one-on-one tour by appointment year-round outside of the usual busy Maple Festival weekends. You can learn more about the Trail at www.virginiamaplesyrup.com. Finally, several sugar camps have stated that they plan to be open to the public at various hours in the late winter and spring, including March, following the coronavirus safety guidelines specific to their location. Information will be updated at our Community Events & Calendar page at https://www.highlandcounty.org/community-events-calendar/, as well as individual member pages at our searchable Chamber member directory at https://members.highlandcounty.org/member-directory. Please check back often to our website for frequent updates in the coming weeks.

Q: Is there a way to support other businesses and organizations other than the sugar camps?
A: Several Chamber business and organizations will be open in the upcoming weeks and months, some with specialty events following the coronavirus safety guidelines specific to their location. We encourage you to visit our Community Events & Calendar page at https://www.highlandcounty.org/community-events-calendar/ for updated information, as well as individual member pages at our searchable Chamber member directory at https://members.highlandcounty.org/member-directory to learn more about what organizations will offer. Please check back often to our website for frequent updates in the coming weeks. We appreciate any support you may be able to provide now and throughout the year for local businesses, nonprofits and individuals.

Q: You’ve had to cancel the festival for two years now. Will it ever come back?
A: Yes! The Highland County Chamber of Commerce is fully dedicated to holding future Maple Festivals when it is safe and viable to do so. We have been just as frustrated and disappointed as anyone to cancel. We miss our visitors and vendors. Too much work and dedication from so many talented individuals has gone into making the Maple Festival a success for decades to have it just disappear. These are challenging times for the world where adjustments have to be made, but we feel brighter and better days lie ahead. Although this is difficult in the short-term, we feel it is best for the long-term success of the festival. We look forward to 2022 for a full event once again. Please stay updated at https://www.highlandcounty.org/maple-festival/.

Q: What are the Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines you reference in your decision-making process?
A: The Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines that were available at the time of the cancellation decision are available at https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Forward-Virginia-Phase-Three-Guidelines-December-2020.pdf. In addition to “Guidelines for all Business Sectors” beginning on Page 1, the Maple Festival requirements fall under “Entertainment and Public Amusement” beginning on Page 31. The guidelines may change at any time, and the listed website above may not work in the future, so you can visit the main Forward Virginia Guidelines page at https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia/.

Q: Cancelling the festival is devastating for the economy. Don’t you care about our local businesses and vendors?
A. The Highland County Chamber of Commerce absolutely cares about our local businesses and vendors. None of these decisions are made lightly. The mission of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce is to strive to lift up local businesses and entrepreneurs, promote Highland County, and champion economic prosperity and quality of life. Our vision is to create a county that is recognized worldwide as a unique destination, and an environment for business that fosters economic prosperity and a high quality of life for all residents. Part of that commitment is an ethical responsibility for the safety of our community. Ultimately, the safety concerns outweigh the economic justification to currently hold a mass event, so as painful as it is, cancelling the 2021 Maple Festival is what we believe is in the best interest for Highland County in the short-term. Throughout 2020, we have focused on economic recovery efforts for our community and vendors to help as best we can. Part of those efforts included using CARES Act Money to be able to pay back our 2020 vendors with full refunds, including any late fees. Throughout 2021, we will continue to look for ways to keep our community informed of economic opportunities and recovery efforts to provide support through these challenging times.

Q: The majority of the Maple Festival is outside. Why couldn’t you move forward in 2021 safely?
A: The Chamber of Commerce coordinates over 100 vendors throughout downtown Monterey, the Highland County Public School System, and McDowell. Occupancy for the Chamber’s Maple Festival, or the portions we directly coordinate like the vendors, cannot exceed 250 patrons (this number includes vendors, staff, and volunteers). Our vendors travel many miles to see thousands of customers, and we could not guarantee a cost-effective turnout for them given these restrictions. Additionally, in a typical year, even outside, visitors and vendors are located in close contact with each other, particularly with sidewalk traffic up and down Monterey. Current Virginia Forward Phase Three Guidelines require us to follow steps such as “Outdoor queue lines and queue lines for interactive exhibits or other areas that would encourage congregating should follow physical distancing guidelines, allowing for six feet of separation between persons who are not members of the same household,” “Create a guest flow plan of modified queue lines to and within the facility. Determine areas likely to become bottlenecks or pinch points and adjust guest flow accordingly,” and “Install visible markers for queue lines that separate people by six feet of physical distance.” Because the Maple Festival is unique in that everything to see and do is not located in one central place, it is nearly impossible to follow these guidelines for a safe and enjoyable experience for our vendors and visitors. Furthermore, by having to limit the amount of vendors in order to accommodate social distance spacing, the Chamber would have to “pick and choose” vendors while eliminating others in a process that would not be satisfying to our longstanding relationships.

Q: Did you consider moving the Maple Festival to a later date in the summer?
A: Yes, we did consider this option. One of the charms of the Maple Festival is that you get to see the process of producing maple syrup at the end of a long winter. In the summer, even though you can learn much and tour facilities, the sugar camps are not in full operation of making their syrup. Furthermore, there are many competing commitments on time for local organizations during the summer months, as well as many competing festivals that make choosing a date difficult. We also find that our vendors are usually already booked during the summer months. Finally, we still do not know what restrictions will be in place regarding the coronavirus guidelines, so we do not want to set a summer date only to have the same issues and potential cancellation occur again. For these reasons, we did not move forward with changing the date of the Maple Festival to the summer. However, in order to support or community, the Chamber has not ruled out holding some type of summer event or events if guidelines allow. We will keep the public updated at www.highlandcounty.org. Several other events and things to do in Highland County throughout the year can be found at https://www.highlandcounty.org/community-events-calendar/ and https://www.highlandcounty.org/things-to-do/.

Q: Did you consider a virtual event?
A: Yes, we did consider a virtual event. Ultimately, over 50% of responses from our committed 2020 vendors stated they would not be willing to participate in an online virtual event format in 2021. Some explained that a virtual event would not work for their setups, particularly with a lack of sampling and personal interaction that make an in-person event exciting for visitors. Ultimately, we did not feel that a virtual event would be economically successful for our vendors and would not provide our visitors with the experience they are looking for with the Maple Festival.

Q: Why did you wait to make this decision? Why don’t you wait longer to make a decision until closer to the festival?
A: There is no perfect time to make a decision like this. For planning purposes, the Chamber wanted to wait long enough into the new year after the busy holiday season to determine what the changing guidelines, if any, would be for planning purposes. Yet, we cannot wait to make the decision just a few weeks or days before March due to the massive amount of planning and coordination that needs to occur for a successful event. With no indication that the current guidelines will be lifted in the immediate future, the Chamber made its decision based on the information that is readily available.

Q: Will the Maple Queen Pageant happen this year?
A: No. There will not be a 2021 Maple Queen Pageant due to the same safety concerns and guideline restrictions. We plan to have more information on the 2020 Maple Queen Court’s role in 2021 in the future.

 

For more more information about health and economic resources, please visit the Chamber's COVID-19 Resource Page at https://www.highlandcounty.org/covid-19/.

 

Below, you'll find information about the Maple Festival in a typical year.  Please check back in late 2021 for updates on the 2022 festival.  Thank you!

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The Highland County Maple Festival has been announced as the 2020 first-place place winner for Best Food or Drink Festival of the Shenandoah Valley Region in Virginia Living’s ninth annual Best of Virginia issue. This special issue hit newsstands July 17, 2020. The statewide guide to all that is “best” in Virginia dining, shopping, and doing, Best of Virginia 2020 lists the more than 1,500 winners from the magazine’s Readers’ Survey, conducted in January. More than 54,000 people voted in 103 categories, covering the best in Living & Recreation, Food & Drink, Shopping, and Services across the state.  We are humbled, and we appreciate everyone’s support!   Pick up your copy of Virginia Living’s Best of Virginia 2020 issue today!  http://www.virginialiving.com/best-of-virginia-main/best-of-virginia-2020/.

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General Information about the Maple Festival in a typical year:

Take a step back in time to Highland County, “Virginia’s Sweet Spot.” Travel scenic back roads and majestic mountain byways to the annual Highland County Maple Festival.  Since 1959, visitors have been drawn to Highland County to tour real maple sugar camps for a cultural and culinary adventure! In 1999, The Library of Congress designated The Highland County Maple Festival a “Local Legacy.” In 2014, the Governor of Virginia signed a bill into law designating the festival as the “official maple festival of Virginia.” Each year, tens of thousands of visitors are drawn to this unspoiled, rural region of Virginia to celebrate the “opening” of the trees and observe the process of maple syrup-making. Sugar camp tours provide a unique and educational experience that portrays a rapidly vanishing way of American life. In 2020, there will be a new sugar camp open, bringing the total to 9 open sugar camps with unique techniques and stories for you to explore. In addition to pancake dinners, doughnuts and entertainment, over 100 high-quality juried vendors take part in the festival each year. We’re glad to have you share the experience!

Hours: Saturdays 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sundays 9:00 am to 4:00 pm for the majority of the festival, including the Arts & Crafts/Food Vendors.  Get an early start, beginning at 7:00 am for all-you-can eat pancake and buckwheat meals at certain areas on Saturdays and Sundays, or stay later on Saturdays for a 7:00 pm show!

GPS Addresses: The festival is a COUNTY-WIDE event, with each rural town having something unique to explore.  Two main areas of interest are Monterey at “165 W. Main Street, Monterey” OR McDowell as “Mansion House Road, McDowell”.

Traffic Tips: Our rural mountain community has two main roads of Rt. 220 and Rt. 250. No matter which way you enter, you can experience something new.  The center of Highland County is Monterey, and traffic often gets backed up and can cause long wait times.  Though we feel it is worth the wait, know that you are never more than 30 minutes away from the edge of Highland in any direction from Monterey using Rt. 250 or 220, so feel free to leave Monterey, visit a new sugar camp or other attraction, and come back in.  If you’re coming from McDowell to Monterey along Rt. 250, you can also take Rt. 629 (Strait Creek Road) to bypass Monterey and head toward Rt. 220 North to head to Blue Grass.  Rt. 629 is a rural road, so watch speeds.  We recommend viewing a map beforehand to plan your best route.  We also recommend an early start to your cultural and culinary adventure!  Safe travels! (Please note: Rt. 624, also known as Jack Mountain Road, is blocked off beyond Eagle’s Sugar Camp in the Doe Hill area for safety concerns).

Communication: Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile carriers offer limited cell phone service. Payphones in McDowell and Headwaters dial 911 in case of an emergency.

Dog Policy: Leashed dogs are permitted in outside, public spaces during the festival.

Check out our official 2020 Highland County Maple Festival Brochure! You can find this at various Visitor Centers and locations within and without the county, including the Highland County Visitor Center at The Highland Center at 61 Highland Center Drive just off Spruce Street in Monterey.  (Please be sure to “scale to fit” if you want to print your own on a standard sheet of paper).

Click the following link for the March 12, 2020 Press Release on the 2020 Maple Festival being postponed until further notice: 2020 Maple Festival Postponement Press Release

 

*2020* Maple Festival Information

Arts & Crafts Show

The Highland County Maple Festival Juried Arts & Crafts Show features over 100 contemporary and country artisans and crafters inside and outside the county.  Meet our artists and craftsmen in their booths, and learn about the process of creating these unique, high-quality treasures.

Visit the Highland Maple Festival, and enjoy a selection of fine arts and crafts that includes jewelry, glassware, hand-tooled leather, photography, pottery, textiles, wood furnishings, and much more.

The Juried Arts & Crafts Show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays during the festival. Locations include:

  • Highland High School Gymnasium (Monterey)*
  • Highland Elementary School Gymnasium (Monterey)*
  • Courthouse Lawn (Monterey)
  • Main Street (Monterey)
  • Ernie’s Market (Monterey)
  • Stonewall Ruritan Building (McDowell)

*There is a $3 admission charge for entrance to the gymnasiums. (Ages 12 and under are free!) These proceeds assist the Highland County Chamber of Commerce with general operations and festival planning and expenses.

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MF Courthouse Lawn
keychain

Entertainment

The 56th Annual Maple Queen Contest will be held on Saturday, February 29, 2020 in the Highland High School gymnasium at 7 pm.  Adults: $4 • Children (6-12): $2 • Children under 6: Free

Following the crowning of the Maple Queen & Court, the Maple Queen Ball will be held at the Blue Grass Ruritan Building from 9 pm – 1 am, featuring the band, “Your Best Shot” . Adults: $10.00 • 12 and under: $5.00 • Refreshments available

Music

Both Saturday 3 pm and 7 pm performances at The Highland Center are brought to you by the Highland County Arts Council.

They are made possible in part by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.

Saturday, March 14 2020

Little Switzerland Cloggers (Award-winning Clogging Team)
www.sundancestudio.net/little-switzerland-cloggers/

The Highland Center Auditorium
61 Highland Center Drive, Monterey, VA 24465
1 pm
Admission: FREE!
* Show sponsored by The Highland County Chamber of Commerce

The Little Switzerland Cloggers are one of the oldest Clogging groups in the state and have performed at fairs, festivals, events, parties, and corporate events throughout Virginia and West Virginia. With a goal to have something in their shows for everyone, the group performs to a wide variety of music from bluegrass and country to oldies and today’s top hits. Whether you’re eight or 80, you will enjoy a Little Switzerland Cloggers’ show. Plus, everything is 100% family-friendly but on a level suited for children through adult audiences.


Tyler Hughes (Old Time Music and Appalachian Dance)
www.tylerhughesmusic.com

The Highland Center Auditorium
61 Highland Center Drive, Monterey, VA 24465
3 pm
Admission: $3 or Maple Festival Keychain
* Show sponsored in part by The Highland County Chamber of Commerce

Tyler Hughes presents the living musical traditions of Southwest Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. An award-winning banjoist and dancer, his musical abilities paired with an extensive historical knowledge of the songs and tunes make for a highly entertaining and informative concert or workshop. Hughes has lived in Southwest Virginia since birth, but has travelled internationally studying and performing. His performances include old and new songs that paint an accurate portrayal of life in the Appalachian region.


Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys (Folk Music of the Southern Appalachian Mountains)
www.virginiamountainboys.com

The Highland Center Auditorium
61 Highland Center Drive, Monterey, VA 24465
7 pm
Admission: $10

Singer, song-writer, and cross-picking guitar virtuoso Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys, bring to life the authentic folk music of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. They specialize in old bluegrass ballads, early country, and camp meeting songs, in a style that is uniquely their own. Jenkins, a member of the Virginia Music Hall of Fame, has collected countless numbers of old songs over the 60 years he has been performing. His group can sing over 500 songs from memory and can create a song list for any type of audience or occasion.

Saturday, March 21 2020

Food

A visit to the Highland Maple Festival is a culinary experience!  Sample delicious local products and a selection of tasty treats infused with Highland-made maple syrup.  Maple donuts, maple-glazed chicken, maple candy, all-you-can-eat regular and buckwheat pancakes smothered in maple syrup are “musts” on your Maple Festival to-do list!

The following foods are available throughout the four days of the festival:
Denotes seated service available

Take a step back in time to Highland County, "Virginia's Switzerland." Travel back roads and mountain byways to the annual Highland Maple Festival. Held on the 2nd and 3rd weekends of March, the Maple Festival has been an annual event in Highland County, Virginia, since 1958. 

Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

Pancake Dinners - Regular & Buckwheat:

BLUE GRASS:  Blue Grass Ruritan Building.  Located on Blue Grass Valley Road, 7 miles north of Monterey.  (7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

BOLAR:  Bolar Ruritan Club.  Located 15 miles south of Monterey at intersection of Routes 220 & 607. (7 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

MCDOWELL:  Stonewall Ruritan Building. On Route 678 in McDowell. (7 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

MONTEREY:  Highland County Public Schools on Myers-Moon Road, off Rt. U.S. 250 in Monterey.
(8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

WILLIAMSVILLE:  Bath-Highland Fire Department/Williamsville Community Center on Route 678.
(7 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

Other Foods:

McDowell

  • McDowell Fire Department (Inside): BBQ Chicken, Trout, and Country Ham Dinners; Rt.
    678, across from the Stonewall Ruritan building. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • McDowell Fire Department (Outside): Cotton Candy, Candied Apples, Funnel Cakes; Rt. 678
  • Stonewall Ruritan Building: Maple Products, Kettle Corn, and Pork Rinds; Rt. 678

Monterey

  • Mill Gap Ruritans Maple Doughnuts; Located directly north of the Highland Medical Center and behind Ernie’s Market off Rt. 220 South
  • Maple Festival Food Court; N. Water St.,
    Monterey – Various Food Trucks and Vendor Options
  • Funnel Cakes
  • Church of God of Prophecy: Country Ham Sandwiches, Burgers, and Hot Dogs; Main Street
  • Monterey Lions Club: Pork Rinds; Main Street

Restaurants

  • The Curly Maple (174 W. Main Street, Monterey – 540-468-1250) – Lunch/dinner specials and signature Maple Cinnamon Buns
  • Highs Restaurant (73 W. Main Street, Monterey – 540-468-1700) – MapleFest All-You-Can-Eat Special includes All-you-can-eat pancakes and buckwheat cakes, Trout, Country Fried Steak, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Maple Glazed Half Chicken, Western Ham, Maple Bourbon Chili, Sides, Salad, Drink, and Homemade Maple Pound Cake with Strawberries and Whip Cream
  • Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern (37 Potomac River Road, Monterey – 540-468-3463) – Maple Pork BBQ and Tenderloin, Pancakes and buckwheat cakes, Trout

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Directions

GPS Addresses: The festival is a COUNTY-WIDE event, with each rural town having something unique to explore.  Two main areas of interest are Monterey at “165 W. Main Street, Monterey” OR McDowell as “Mansion House Road, McDowell”.

Traffic Tips: Our rural mountain community has two main roads of Rt. 220 and Rt. 250. No matter which way you enter, you can experience something new.  The center of Highland County is Monterey, and traffic often gets backed up and can cause long wait times.  Though we feel it is worth the wait, know that you are never more than 30 minutes away from the edge of Highland in any direction from Monterey using Rt. 250 or Rt. 220, so feel free to leave Monterey, visit a new sugar camp or other attraction, and come back in.  If you’re coming from McDowell to Monterey along Rt. 250, you can also take Rt. 629 (Strait Creek Road) to bypass Monterey and head toward Rt. 220 North to head to Blue Grass.  Rt. 629 is a rural road, so watch speeds.  We recommend viewing a map beforehand to plan your best route.  We also recommend an early start to your cultural and culinary adventure!  Safe travels! (Please note: Rt. 624, also known as Jack Mountain Road, is blocked off beyond Eagle’s Sugar Camp in the Doe Hill area for safety concerns).

FROM THE NORTH:  Travel south on I-81 to exit #225 (Monterey exit).  Follow Rt. 262 southwest to junction with US 250 (Churchville Ave.).  Turn right at the bottom of the exit ramp and follow US 250 west into Highland County.  Travel west on US 250 to McDowell (35 miles) and Monterey (45 miles).  From I-81:  allow approximately 1 hour’s driving time to McDowell and 1 hour and 15 minutes to Monterey (more, if you are driving or hauling an over-sized vehicle).

FROM THE EAST:  Follow I-64 west to I-81.  Travel south on I-81/I-64 in the direction of Lexington.  Take first exit (#220 to Staunton) onto Rt. 262.  Follow Rt. 262 northwest to the junction with Route US 250 (Churchville Ave.).  Turn left at the end of the exit ramp and follow US 250 west into Highland County to McDowell (35 miles) and Monterey (45 miles).    From I-81:  allow approximately 1 hour driving time to McDowell and 1 hour and 15 minutes driving time to Monterey (more, if you are driving or hauling an over-sized vehicle).

FROM THE SOUTH:  Travel north on I-81 to exit #220 (Staunton exit) onto Rt. 262.  Follow Rt. 262 northwest to the junction with Route US 250 (Churchville Ave.).  Turn left at the end of the exit ramp and follow US 250 west into Highland County to McDowell (35 miles) and Monterey (45 miles).    Or, if you are traveling from southwest Virginia, the Carolinas, or Tennessee, take exit #150 (just north of Roanoke) and follow US 220 north into Monterey (125 miles).  From I-81, exit #150:  allow approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes driving time to Monterey (more, if you are driving or hauling an over-sized vehicle).  This is the shorter route for those traveling from southwestern Virginia.

FROM THE WEST:  Travel east on US 250 or US 84 to Monterey.  Allow approximately 1 hour driving time from Elkins or 2 hours from White Sulphur Springs (more, if you are driving or hauling an over-sized vehicle).

* US 250 is an excellent 2-lane road; however, there are a number of tight curves and steep grades as it crosses the mountains. Use extra caution if you are pulling a trailer or RV.  Use lower gears on downhill grades.

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Maple Sugar Facts

  • Pure maple syrup contains no preservatives, capsule artificial flavoring or color.
  • Pure maple syrup is FAT FREE!
  • Maple syrup is 33.5% water and 66.5% sugar.
  • Store opened containers of syrup in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Pure Maple Syrup is sold by shades of “amber.”
  • Light Amber has a fine, delicate flavor.
  • Medium Amber has a richer flavor and is most frequently used as table syrup.
  • Dark Amber is used for cooking, or as a table syrup by those who prefer a strong maple flavor.
  • A good tree will produce 20 quarts of “sugar water” in 12 hours.
  • It takes approximately 40 quarts of sugar water to make one quart of maple syrup.
  • Sugar water collected from maple trees is made up of approximately 98% water and 2% sugar.
  • Unopened containers of maple syrup should be stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Maple syrup can also be frozen.
  • Maple Syrup only has 40 calories per tablespoon. Honey has 45, white sugar has 55, and corn sugar has 60.
  • Maple Syrup contains iron, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also has a higher calcium content than milk. It also contains small amounts of amino acids, proteins, and vitamins B2, B5, and niacin.
  • Correct tapping methods causes no permanent damage to the maple sugar tree.
  • Freezing nights and warm, sunny days make ideal weather conditions for harvesting sugar water.

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Maple Sugar Tours

Visit Maple sugar camps throughout the county as they welcome visitors to view the process of syrup-making. The region’s higher elevations contribute to late-winter and early-spring weather patterns of warm, sunny afternoons and crisp, freezing nights – a perfect combination for maple sugar production!

The process begins with tapping maple trees to collect the clear, almost tasteless, sugar water. Gathered in buckets or by plastic tubing, the sap is boiled in kettles, pans, or evaporators until a barrel is finally reduced to a gallon of pure maple syrup.

Highland County is home to the southernmost commercial Maple syrup producing industry in the United States. Our unique climate and elevation makes Highland County the prime location for maple syrup production in Virginia. Families in this area have been producing Maple syrup for hundreds of years with some families even continuing the tradition into the sixth and seventh generations.  The Highland County Maple Festival is the second largest Maple Festival in the country and definitely the largest south of the Mason Dixon line!

If you find yourself in Highland County outside of our “Maple Season,” which can run from mid January through the end of March, we hope you’ll still stop in at one of our camps to learn about one of Highland County’s signature products – maple syrup!

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Pick up an official map of the tour at your first stop. Directions to the sugar camps and all other Maple Festival activities and events are clearly marked. Watch for “Maple Sugar Tour” signs to point you in the right direction! Warm clothing and boots are advisable for visiting the maple sugar camps.

Vendors

THE CHAMBER IS NO LONGER ACTIVELY SEEKING VENDORS FOR 2020, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW IF SPOTS MAY OPEN UP.  IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN BEING A BACKUP OR WANT TO BE ON THE LIST FOR 2021, PLEASE EMAIL: director@highlandcounty.org.

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