Elmira Maple Syrup Festival History
Celebrating Since 1965
A Small Town Festival Attracting Thousands
Elmira’s Maple Syrup Festival is considered a true sign of spring; visitors are drawn by spring fever and a nostalgia for a rural way of life. Come join the fun - there is something for everyone young and old.
April 10th, 1965 was a warm and inviting day and all roads led to Elmira. The ladies were ready at their camp stoves and electric griddles, ready to serve pancakes and maple syrup to a crowd of hopefully 2,500. To everyone’s great surprise, 10,000 people made their way to Elmira that first year to savour the sweet taste of spring! And so, our festival grew … and grew … and grew.
Thanks to our visitors from all over the world – Australia, Europe, Mexico, USA, Canada, and even the North Pole – the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Single Day Maple Syrup Festival with 66,529 people attending in 2000.
We have come a long way from those early beginnings. A well-organized volunteer committee meets monthly throughout the entire year to arrange the event. On the festival day, a finely tuned team of 2,000 volunteers rises long before dawn to ensure the smooth running of the festival throughout the entire day. In 2000, we served the 500,000th pancake and the mall grew from featuring 14 booths to offering products from more than 100 vendors. Then, in 2001, the festival’s volunteers were one of 19 groups across the province recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Culture, and Recreation for their outstanding achievements.
Elmira’s Maple Syrup Festival is considered a true sign of spring. Visitors are drawn by spring fever and nostalgia for a rural way of life. Come join the fun – there is something for everyone young and old!
Selling Pancakes at the First Festival
~ Brian Soehner ~
Herb Ainsworth, chair of the first festival, requested the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Youth Group to sell pancake tickets, I was a member of that youth group. Bill Otto was in charge of the Ticket Booth and Eldon Hoffer was the Treasurer. Bill had us use a picnic table placed in front of Cale’s Drug Store (now Read’s Decorating Centre), by 10 a.m. we had sold all the printed tickets, I kept running back to the Otto Men’s Wear Store to get more tickets and give Mr. Hoffer the cash. When we ran out of tickets we collected the used tickets from the Pancake Booth and when that no longer worked Bill instructed us to tear the tickets we had in half and sell them. You can imagine how difficult it was to convince people that a ripped ticket would work!