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Connecting Our Communities

With the sap flowing, organizers now looking to tap into volunteer pool

The big day just a month away now, organizers of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival are on the hunt for volunteers.

Drew McGovern, who heads the festival organizing committee, says there are more than 2,000 people who come together, donate their time and make the festival happen every year. The group is always on the lookout for new recruits.

“I have been on the committee for quite a few years and now and again I bump into people and we talk about the festival. I always ask them why they haven’t come out to help before, and the most popular answer is that nobody has asked them. We’re asking now,” he said.

Whether it’s a high school student looking for some volunteer hours, or someone with just a few spare hours, there are plenty of areas where volunteers are needed on festival day.

“I have found that there are two kinds of people in town. There are the people who go into their basement on festival day and watch Netflix and wait for it to be over, or you get the people who get involved and come out,” said McGovern. “That second person is the person we are looking for. We are hoping there are people who have that three or four hours they can give us, whether it is flipping pancakes, or directing traffic, selling tickets at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, or something like that.”

With expanded activities and events at this year’s festival, organizers may need a few extra volunteers this year. Kim Dixon, vice-chair of the committee, says there are some big changes coming.

“We have a lot more happening at the WMC this year. We just wanted to get more people over there and we just want to make it a friendlier experience for families that come out,” she said. “The crafts are back this year, with 50 tables in the McLeod Arena, and we have created a kid’s zone upstairs. We have four Disney characters that are going to be hanging out, we are going to have our balloon guy up there and of course, the syrup competition table is going to be up there as well.”

Dixon says she also wants to get festival-goers a bit more active, with the addition of some more physical activities at the WMC. In the parking lot, planners are looking into adding a few bouncy castles.

“We don’t want to have people freezing, and we just wanted to add that bit of physical fun,” she said.

The festival is also going a bit hi-tech this year, with online sale for tickets to the WMC. Dixon says the planning committee listened to feedback from last year’s attendees.

“We have simplified things. There is just going to be one ticket price for the WMC. You get a stamp at the door and you just go,” she said. “It is a lot of the same old stuff, but we are really building on that and just adding to the experience.”

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is celebrating its 53rd year, with a nod to Canada’s 150th birthday. The event starts bright and early on Apr. 1 with stacks of pancakes drizzled in local syrup being served at 7 a.m. It runs all day with vendors on Arthur Street and sap-related activities for the whole family. There are some events that start the night before.

To sign up to volunteer, purchase tickets for the Woolwich Memorial Centre events or to see this year’s festival schedule, visit www.elmiramaplesyrup.com. To volunteer, you can also email Rose, the committee’s volunteer coordinator at emsfvolunteer@gmail.com.

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