For 56 years the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has supported dozens of local organizations in the region, donating more than $1.7 million in proceeds over that time. Despite having to cancel this year’s event, the committee is determined to carry on that tradition by donating $35,000 to 18 local initiatives, charities, and organizations.
“Cancelling the festival was an incredibly difficult decision earlier this year, however, we made a commitment to support the Elmira community and Waterloo Region,” said Jessica Bauer, vice-chair of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, in a release. “Today, we are able to deliver on that commitment. We would not have been able to do this without our amazing sponsors and vendors. Although we were not able to have the festival this year, the committee is delighted to be able to deliver on our 56-year-old commitment of supporting the community that so generously supports us.”
Each year all proceeds from the from the festival are given back to the community, helping non-profits and charitable organizations. Because of the cancellation of the event, a large amount of revenue that would have gone back into the community was lost. However, thanks to sponsors and refunds from the cancellation, the committee is able to officially give back this year and help those in need, Bauer explained.
“The major source of our money came from sponsors. We have companies [and] people that sponsor us and they stepped up big time knowing that we couldn’t generate funds and they knew that the community needed as much help as we could get,” said Doug McLean, EMSF committee chair. “So, the people that normally sponsored us – and some of the vendors – didn’t take their fees back but donated them… and we’ve had local companies really contribute big time.”
Bauer says because they announced their cancellation about a month ahead of the event, many groups did not put in an application to receive funds. Now that numbers have been set, she says groups have been telling them that they do not need funding to be given to them this year, instead asking that they release grants to groups that have more pressing needs.
McLean says this shows just how cooperative and generous the community is and it gives him hope for what can be accomplished when things are “not 100 per cent.”
The festival committee expects to distribute the funds starting later this month.
Each year at the height of the syrup season, the festival sees tens of thousands of people descend on Elmira to celebrate. Last year more than $65,000 was raised and given back to organizations within the community.
The next festival is set to be held Mar. 27, 2021.