Sunday, March 20, 2011

Around Our Town-The Highland County Maple Festival

Road trip!  This morning when I awoke, Cathy informed me that we were going to the Highland County Maple Festival.  Oh, joy!  Oh, rapture!  This has never been one of my favorite trips.  When I was younger, we went to Highland about once a month to visit grandparents.  There was no TV, and the radio truly  played hillbilly music in those days. But, I made the sacrifice today.  I called in to church to let them know that I wouldn't be there, and within the hour, we were headed across four mountains to Blue Grass in Highland County-my mother's birthplace!

We stopped by the McDowell Ruritan building where the club members were busy making pancakes, buckwheat cakes, and sausage for an all day breakfast. (Sorry, Jim.  I looked at the package of buckwheat flour and found out it was made in Pennsylvania.  I didn't think it was that special to bring home to you.) We viewed some crafts there and got information about two sugar camps near Blue Grass. 
After crossing Monterey Mountain, we entered Monterey and headed to Blue Grass.  Blue Grass was formerly called Crabbottom.  Can you imagine telling people you came from Crabbottom?  Praise the Lord someone had sense enough to change that town's name!  Blue Grass was the  location of the silent film Tol'able David back in 1921.  My grandmother and mother were part of the crowd scene when mom was two years old.  I saw the  90 minute film back in 1959 when it was replayed for the town folks at one of the earlier Maple Festivals.
Our first stop was the Blue Grass Cemetery to check things out and to impart a bit of family history to Cathy.
The Newman stones looked good, but the Waybright foot markers were covered with inches and inches of lichen.  It looks as though we will have to make a summer trip back over to do some cleaning.
We checked out the town-pointing out the homeplace which really didn't look like the pristine house it once was.  There was no tinner's shop anymore, and the town's multiple stores didn't exist as they one had.  I pointed out the area where the dam was that my great-grandfather owned, and told Cathy about Granny's  brother and sister sending her to visit him to get money for candy.  For some reason, he would give candy money to her so she was the pawn.
Next, we drover to Puffenbarger's Sugar Orchard to check out the maple syrup and the homemade doughnuts.

The Puffenbarger Camp taps over 800 sugar maples a year using plugs, tubing, and huge stainless steel vats for collection and processing.  This was a better year for syrup making due to the rise and fall of temperatures throughout the region.  Last year was an extremely difficult year since the temperatures were so terribly cold throughout the entire season.  The collection this year was up about 7 times.  This picture shows the old time way of collecting sap which the large camps do not use anymore.
The Puffenbarger Camp sold homemade maple doughnuts for $5.00 a dozen.  These were flying out of the bake stand. My dozen was piping hot and remained warm on our trip back home. Of course, Cathy purchased a large jug of maple syrup to try.
The next stop was the Rexrode Sugar Camp where they tapped about 1000 trees this year.  We heard the very same story about how production was so much better this year than last.  Cathy  had to purchase a jug of Rexrode syrup to compare with the Puffenbarger batch.
A short trip to Hightown took us to Dividing Waters Farm where the headwaters of the Potomac and James Rivers can be found.  At one time, my mother's dearest friend returned to her homeplace after living many years in Cincinnati.  Beautiful quilt artwork was painted on the barns and outbuildings.  Two daughters built homes nearby that also had this quilt artwork on some of the outbuildings.  This was a most distinctive touch.  We traveled over another mountain before turning back towards Monterey. We saw a highway sign giving the mileage to Elkins West Virginia.

We traversed across still another mountain to enter Monterey from the north.  The Highland Inn was serving pancakes and sausage as well.   This is an older picture.  It was not shirt sleeve weather, and no plants were beginning to look that green. Today, the temps were in the upper 30's.
We stopped to visit many of the craft booths and antique shops.  In one shop I found the quilted pot holders that I have been looking for forever!    Now I can pitch one set that I have been using since 1985!
So that is our tale of the day.  To all the Waybrights and Newmans out there, I hope you enjoyed our jaunt!


Paula said...

It sounds like a super fun day! I've only been to Highland County a few times. It sure is a pretty area! I love your new potholders and wish I had a hot donut to enjoy.

KDinOK said...

How fun.