By Nancy Huth
Thank goodness for the maple tree,” said Chuck Lausin as the 36th Maple Syrup Hall of Fame Brunch got underway at Mary Yoder’s on April 20. Spirits were high among the approximately 120 guests who were looking forward to the 90th Geauga County Maple Festival in Chardon on the last weekend of April.
At this year’s brunch the inductees into the Hall of Fame were David and Pam Patterson, sixth generation maple producers at Patterson Fruit Farm. They have been judging maple syrup at the Chardon Festival for 25 years. Even before they were engaged in 1993, they entered the Maple Festival candy contest. Now they are very involved in the community and in West Geauga schools. Their children Johnny and Heather are involved with the farm, as well as in school activities. Sugaring is in their blood, as it is in the 79 people who entered syrup or maple candy in various classes to be judged. Among these were 32 producers, 30 hobby and seven out-of-county exhibitors, and 10 novices, totaling 89,828 taps ranging from four taps to 16,000. These taps cover three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This was the biggest tapping year to date.
The committee judging the winners are current members of the Hall of Fame, so they certainly know what they are doing. This year they made some changes to the contest, adding color grade for the hobby and out-of-county exhibitors. The judges triple check density and spend time on color and clarity. But the most time is spent on flavor, which involves a lot of tasting. The judges sample, discuss and sample again. Wouldn’t many of us enjoy that.
Les Ober gave an update on the 2019 season, declaring it an excellent year for Northeast Ohio. He mentioned that Ohio State University’s campus in Mansfield has a woods that produced 13,000 gallons of maple syrup this year. At the university, the study of climate research teaches students about the impact climate has on syrup production.
One of the 2019 novice tree tappers in our county is Ted Dalheim from Munson who has 12 trees and proudly produced three gallons of syrup. He loves being outdoors and teaching his four grandchildren about maple syrup.
In the youth division the youngest winner in the maple candy category was 5-year-old Jayden Freeman, who excitedly helped hand out envelopes to other winners.
In each of the syrup divisions: golden, amber and dark, there were seven place winners among the producers and seven place winners among the Hobby Division. The golden delicate class is considered the granddaddy of them all. The 2019 Best Producer Award went to Roger Roseum, who sported a festive tie displaying jugs of syrup.
Master of Ceremony, Bob Rogish and Maple Festival President Bob Freeman kept things moving along as awards were given for 135 entrees. The Maple Judging Committee would like to thank all of the entrants in the 2019 Geauga Maple Festival Maple Syrup Contest. See you again
Nancy Huth grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Notre Dame College and Cleveland State University. After teaching English for a few years, she married and moved to Germany where she taught English as a second language for 30 years. In 2005 she and her German husband Dieter moved to Middlefield. Nancy has written for the Post since 2007.