Maple Festival a tradition of sap and smiles
COBLESKILL The Maple Queen crown went back to the Vanglad family of Jefferson on Saturday afternoon at the 48th Schoharie County Maple Festival.
Allison Vanglad, 17, won the title from a three-judge panel in a competition that included an individual interview, a question-and-answer segment and a set of prepared remarks in which she acknowledged enjoying taste testing. The judges conferred for a few minutes before deciding who would represent the county’s maple interests at events around the state, including in Albany.
In a strapless dress that was appropriately regal for her new title, Vanglad continued to voice the same support for maple products that characterized her campaign. “I plan to do my best at promoting maple,” she said in her first public remarks after gaining the honor her older sister once had.
It’s not clear what effect, if any, the answer from runner-up Ella Scott, of Cobleskill, had on her chances at maple royalty. For her live question, the smiling 17-year-old was asked to stake out a position on maple syrup and whether she preferred the light, medium or dark variety.
“I prefer dark,” Scott said after a moment of consideration. “Because it has the most flavor ... and I think it tastes the best.”
Because the questions were picked randomly, Vanglad never had to stake out a position on this issue.
The Maple Queen contest wasn’t the only heated maple competition, with this year’s baking contest attracting the largest number of entries in recent years, according to organizer Tammy Carey of Cobleskill. “We had a huge amount of entries because we had the Fabulous Beekman Boys [Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell] judging,” she said.
Bakers in adult, under-13 and commercial categories prepared maple-based goodies. Carey said some people tried to win over the celebrity judges by naming their entry, “Amazing Maple Oatmeal Bars,” a reference to the Beekman Boys’ victory in CBS's “The Amazing Race” reality show last season. They have a program on the Cooking Channel known as “The Fabulous Beekman Boys.”
Another competitor did a play on the Napoleon dessert, which is essentially a layered pastry, by creating a “Maple-Oleon.”
Carey added that the Beekman Boys also made sure the third judge, Esperance Supervisor Earl Van Wormer III, was a vocal judge and not overshadowed by their larger-than-life personalities.
Throughout the day there were also musical performances, including the Zucchini Brothers, who drew a crowd of about 20 with their family-friendly tunes. Playing in front of some benches that were organized in their direction, small children would leave the sides of their parents to dance in front of the performers.
Also ongoing was the sale of crafts, ranging from woodworks to plastic sunglasses and maple products. There was the expected maple syrup, but also maple cream, maple candy and maple mustard. The mustard was highly touted by Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie.
New to this year’s event was the presence of about a dozen student clubs from the nearby State University of New York at Cobleskill. The clubs gave woodworking displays, which included chain sawing and a team crosscut. They also showed how to break down an engine and they displayed livestock.
SUNY-Cobleskill student Tom Latzkowski, 20, who helped organize the college’s presence, said part of its focus is reaching the next generation. He said the hope is to attract even more people next year and continue to grow the role of the college's students at the event.
SUNY-Cobleskill student Eric Rotondo, also 20, added that students want to continue to work with the event organizers and the surrounding communities. In the future they want college alumni to return for demonstrations and to give lectures.
Organizers maintain a year-round presence on their Schoharie County Maple Festival page on Facebook.