Monday, March 31, 2014

Maine Maple Sunday was sweet - By Michelle Libby

Mark Cooper, of Cooper’s Maple Products manned the sugar shack on Sunday while hundreds of people filtered past, stopping to ask questions and to look into the large vat of boiling sap.
“We’re still very small,” Cooper said of his 1,800 tapped trees in the area.

The lines were long and people were enjoying the day at Cooper’s Farm on Chute Road as well as other area farms in Windham, Raymond and Gorham. 

Balsam Ridge Farm in Raymond had a good weekend too. “”Everybody gets out there regardless of the weather to pretend that spring is here,” owner Sharon Lloy. “The crop is certainly down from what it normally is,” she said, but in the next 10 days the weather will change. “Rest up now. It’s going to be a sap-a-gedon. We’re going to be busy,” Lloy said. Balsam Ridge, which started with nine taps, has over 1,200 now. “It’s an addiction. It starts as a few, then a bit more and we continued to grow,” Lloy said. 

“We had 3,000 people last year and that was up considerably. Everybody had a huge crowd last year,” said Cooper. 

Each year the Cooper sugar shack makes a few hundred gallons of syrup on average every year. This year because it has been so cold the sap has not been running so Cooper expects an extended season, until April 17 anyway, which has been the latest he’s made syrup in the past. The season is six weeks long on average. 

“We all love making syrup. But there is a point where we want to be done,” Cooper said.

Maine Maple Sunday is in its 31st year with 94 sugar shacks on the register. Cooper’s has been a part of the festivities since the late 1980s when there were only 17 on the list with only three in Cumberland County, he said.  

Cooper’s had everything on sale from maple lollipops to maple cotton candy and of course, various sizes of maple syrup. 

Balsam Ridge in Raymond ran out of their baked beans made with their maple syrup and hot dogs steamed in sap. Merrifield Farm in Gorham had maple smoked cheeses, maple soft serve ice cream and maple butter. Many of the items are still on sale.


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