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This year’s festival in Vergas even included maple syrup milkshakes

Gage Grunst, 12, of Ottertail, pours syrup on his pancake during Saturday’s Maple Syrup Festival in Vergas. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham1 / 4
Jim Zelm of Vergas pours some more pancake batter onto the griddle of the Vergas Community Center during Saturday morning’s pancake feed. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham2 / 4
Free sugar maple saplings were given out to the Maple Syrup Festival breakfast eaters Saturday morning. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham3 / 4
The Maple Syrup Festival 5k heads out of Vergas Saturday morning. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham4 / 4

With several new twists, along with the old classic events, the Vergas Maple Syrup Festival, held over the weekend, was a celebration of the sweet nectar of the maple tree.

“Things went very well,” said Sherri Hanson, a member of the Vergas Community Club, which heads up the event.

“There were 145 runners for the “Saps Running” 5K run-walk, which started and ended at Billy’s Bar. Ken Hammer of Frazee won first place overall in the event.

It is one of the area’s earliest running events of the season, and last year brought out 120 runners.

Also a hit this year were the new maple syrup milkshakes, made from vanilla ice cream and real maple syrup and sold for $2 each at the Vergas Community Center.

“The milk shakes went very well,” Hanson said “If I sound like I’m speaking from experience, I am — they were very good.”

More than 700 people showed up at the Community Center for the traditional pancake feed, with flapjacks, sausage, juice, coffee, and, of course, genuine maple syrup.

“Jerry Jacobson of Jake’s Syrups always makes it possible to have real maple syrup,” Hanson said.

Even if there isn’t enough to be found locally, Jacobson knows distributors in Canada and elsewhere and makes sure the event is well supplied with genuine sweet stuff from the trees. “We always have real maple syrup,” Hanson said.

Also new this year, the Community Club handed out 750 maple saplings “for families to take home,” she said.

“That was fun,” she added. “It was the first time we’ve done that.”

Another classic event, the kids Easter egg hunt, also left a lot of satisfied customers.

“Over 2,000 Easter eggs were hidden for kids outside on the lawn at the Vergas Assisted Living,” she said. Well over 50 kids participated in the hunt, she said.

It was the 14th year that the Maple Syrup Festival was held in Vergas, as a way to honor the many people in the area that tap trees, and to give people a chance to get out and celebrate the end of a long winter.

Volunteers make the festival happen, with the Vergas Lions and the Vergas Community Club being especially active in the event.

“And some of the people who do their own tree-tapping have real interest, of course,” Hanson said.

Three new volunteers — Amy Felt, Samantha Gronseth and Leah Jacobson — all employees at Spanky’s Stone Hearth restaurant near Vergas, were especially helpful his year, Hanson said.

“The Community Club is very appreciative of the people that do come and work these things — it just doesn’t happen if you don’t have volunteers to help,” Hanson said. “And thanks to people that come — we wouldn’t have an event if people didn’t show up.”