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Vermont Maple Festival kicks off in St. Albans - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont Maple Festival kicks off in St. Albans

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. -

It's the first festival of the season, a combination of favorite summer treats and sugar on snow! Grab your jacket, it's time to go to the Vermont Maple Festival! There are pony rides, concerts, a parade, craft show and antiques, but the real reason people turn out, is for the maple!

"The food, the creemees, the doughnuts, the sugar on snow, the maple cotton candy!" said Kim LaPerle of St. Albans.

The maple festival is also about competition, and this competition is for real. Don't be entering thinking everyone will get a blue ribbon. The winner receives an award. The maple BBQ is Saturday night.

"First we check the density, because the standards in Vermont are much higher than in other states. So we check the density and if it doesn't meet the density, then it's immediately rejected," said Cecile Branon, a maple judge.

This is the first year of the new maple grading system in Vermont. And for this one year, producers can label their product with the old labels and the new labels to help consumers adjust to the new system. But next year, Fancy, A and B will switch entirely over to golden, amber and dark.

"My daughter won the two top ribbons for food... the cream puffs and the bread," said Bert Pion of St. Albans.

It's not all about the syrup, maple chefs can strut their stuff, too. And if gazing at these treats inspires you, you can buy the Vermont Maple Festival cookbook, with recipes from past winners.

It's been a challenging year for maple producers, with cold weather lasting long into the spring, and a fluky warm spell in the middle as well. Some are even still boiling in the colder parts of the state. But no matter what Mother Nature throws at the maple producers each season, in late April, it's time to celebrate.

Click here for more on the Vermont Maple Festival.

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