One of the first rites of spring in the lakes area, the 13th annual Maple Syrup Fest is set for Saturday, April 6 in Vergas.
Each year, the festival raises hundreds of dollars for the Vergas Community Club, which in turn uses the money to fund a variety of local service projects, says festival organizer Karen Olson.
One of the primary attractions of the festival is the sausage and pancake feed, where hundreds of visitors line up inside the Vergas Event Center to enjoy stacks of flapjacks and sausage links, drizzled with 100 percent authentic maple syrup.
The feed runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children.
But that’s not all that happens, Olson says.
“Our local businesses will have a variety of ‘sweet specials,’” she noted.
For instance, Olson adds, Goodman’s Super Valu will be serving up 25-cent maple nut-flavored ice cream cones; Vergas Municipal Liquors will offer a 10 percent discount on its Maple Crown Royal whiskey; and the Loon’s Nest will have plenty of maple-flavored treats for sampling. In addition, Billy’s Bar & Grill will be serving up maple-flavored brats and drinks.
A complete list of local business specials will be distributed at the pancake feed, she said.
Another festival tradition, the annual “Saps Running” 5K Maple Syrup Run/Walk, gets underway at 9 a.m. in front of Vergas Hardware. Participants can sign up starting at 7:30 a.m. inside Billy’s Bar & Grill for $25, or they can get a $5 discount for registering online in advance, at www.cityofvergas.com (click on the “Community Club” link).
The registration fee includes a commemorative Maple Syrup Fest t-shirt and free admission to the pancake and sausage feed in the Community Center.
“We had 140 runners last year,” Olson said.
Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age group; Olson said the maple leaf-shaped medals are collectible pieces of art in themselves, provided each year courtesy of the Forest Edge Gallery.
In addition, there will be a “post-Easter” egg hunt starting at 11 a.m., with three age groups gathering at either Vergas Assisted Living or the adjacent St. John’s Church to hunt down a variety of colorfully-decorated plastic eggs.
Some of the eggs will contain candy and other prizes, but some will contain a certificate for a small, cuddly teddy bear.
“The eggs are all filled, so we will be having an egg hunt,” Olson said with a laugh.
There will also be a kids’ drawing for one of three large stuffed animals, she added.
For the adults, there will be a raffle drawing held inside the community center after the pancake feed, with the winner receiving a beautifully handcrafted piece of metallic art created by local artist Patrick Shannon. Cost to participate is $2 per ticket, which may be purchased at the liquor store, Quiet Cricket, or during the pancake feed.
The art piece itself will be on display at the liquor store between now and the start of the festival, Olson said.
There will also be a variety of maple syrup-themed booths inside the event center for pancake feed guests to enjoy, along with live entertainment featuring the DL Cloggers and a local group of Zumba dancers.
Weather permitting, area maple syrup producers will also be giving sugar house tours during the festival, said Olson. A map for guiding guests to the participating businesses will be available at the Event Center.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.