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Maple Festival

 

Please click the link below to learn about health and economic resources during the coronavirus pandemic, including ways to purchase surplus items and syrup from the postponed 62nd Maple Festival, as well as for businesses and nonprofits to find information on safety precautions and financial support.

CHAMBER COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE

The Highland County Maple Festival has been announced as this year’s 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 will hit newsstands July 17. 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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March 13 – 14 & 20 – 21, 2021

More details on the 2021 festival to come.  Stay tuned!

In past years, applications for the Highland County Maple Festival have been made available in July.  Unfortunately, due to the changing landscape, it is too early to be able to provide an application that we can honestly say will still be relevant in March of 2021.  The Highland County Chamber of Commerce will continue to monitor federal, state and local guidelines and work with stakeholders to determine the appropriate and safe steps forward.  While living through a pandemic of this scale and disruption has been difficult, we are committed to continuing the tradition of the Highland County Maple Festival that supports so many.

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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 1958, 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
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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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