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Maple Syrup Fest coming up in Vergas

The sap is running, the sugarhouses are busily cooking syrup and pretty soon, the pancakes will be a-flipping.

Yes, it's almost time for Vergas's annual Maple Syrup Fest. The community celebration, now in its ninth year, is set to take place this Saturday, April 5.

Originally sponsored by the local Maple Syrup Association, the event has grown so much that the Vergas Community Club (VCC) took it over three years ago.

"We still work very closely with the Maple Syrup Association (on the festival)," says Melissa Bunkowske, VCC president. "It was just becoming too big for them, so we stepped in to help."

The event typically draws between 1,100-1,200 people each year, Bunkowske noted. Its principal attraction is, of course, the pancake and sausage breakfast at the Vergas Community Center, featuring pure, locally made maple syrup.

The doors open at 8 a.m., with freshly made pancakes and sausage served continuously until 1 p.m.

"Individual tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for children 10 and under, and families (parents and children only) can eat for $25," Bunkowske says,

Also at the community center, area vendors will be offering a variety of products made with maple syrup, including maple-flavored cotton candy, fudge and cookies. And, of course, there will be sweatshirts decorated with the official Maple Syrup Fest logo.

There will be some activities for the younger festival attendees as well.

"Because Easter came so early this year, we are having a 'spring egg hunt' down at the Vergas city park (by the loon statue) starting at 11 a.m.," says Bunkowske. "This event is for toddlers and children up to 10 years of age."

Area maple syrup producers will also be offering sugarhouse tours (maps available at the community center), and local merchants will have a variety of "sweet deals" for those looking to do a little shopping while they're in town.

For those who might be looking to burn off some of those calories from the pancake breakfast, the VCC is also sponsoring the third annual Flap Jack 5K Run/Walk in conjunction with the festival.

"Last year's event had over 100 participants, and we are really looking forward to meeting that goal once again," says Bunkowske.

"You can register inside Billy's (Bar) on the day of the run, starting at 9 a.m., or you can pre-register online (at either or"

The entry fee is $20, which includes a free breakfast at the community center and official Maple Syrup Fest headgear (limited number available to early registrants).

There is an added incentive for participants this year; the top three finishers in each race category will receive a handcrafted medal, courtesy of local Vergas artisan Pat Shannon.

The race starts at 10 a.m. in front of Billy's; winners will be announced and medals awarded at the community center after the event has concluded.

Shannon, who operates the Forest Edge Art Gallery in rural Vergas, has also crafted a metal birdbath, made with copper, which will be raffled off at 1 p.m. to conclude the 2008 festival.

"Tickets for the raffle are $2, and can be purchased at the festival or from any Vergas merchant," Bunkowske says. "You don't need to be present to win, but the winner will be responsible for picking up the item."

For more information, please send an e-mail to

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454