How sweet it is

ELIZABETHTOWN Its been more than 30 years since the Maple Sugar Festival was held in Elizabethtown, but some of the faces were the same. Al Kurtz joined other members of the Elizabethtown Kiwanis in grilling up more than 300 pancakes for attendees of the Maple Sugar Festival, which was held at the Adirondack History Center. I was here in 61 and 62, said Kurtz. I cooked the same way, he said as he worked on grilling up sausages. His efforts were appreciated by the crowd. These are the best pancakes Ive had in a long time, said Elizabethtown resident Philip Jackson. Jackson attended the event in his youth, and spent the day reminiscing and enjoying the program. Kiwanian Peter Frisbee noted that many of the people attending the event were newer to the community but he enjoyed seeing people come out for it. The original maple sugar festival was held on April 13, 1957. The festival was a featured event in the Elizabethtowns community calendar, but eventually died out. The event was organized by the Essex County Historical Society. One of the most popular events was a book reading by Melba Wrisley, a long-time Elizabethtown resident. Wrisley read from Growing Up Strong, which is a collection of essays about being raised in the Adirondacks. Wrisley recalled the first festival fondly, noting that 157 gallons of syrup were made during the event. A group of youth participated in a pancake eating contest. Hannah Looby and Jesse Misarski tied for first, while Saran Looby placed second and John Looby placed third. The kids were given two minutes to eat as many pancakes as they could. Shovel that was my strategy, said Misarski, who said the pancakes were a little burnt. Hannah Looby, who ate about four pancakes, was still hungry after finishing the contest. During the event, she rolled up the pancakes and ate them with her hands without syrup. There were a dozen entries in the maple dessert contest. The culinary treats were judged on presentation, taste, texture, quality and servability. Elizabeth Lawrence won the contest with her recipe for Mountain Maple Cheesecake. The dessert was featured at the Deer's Head Inn for a week. Other dessert contest winners were Lucy Misarski's maple sugar ice cream in the under 12 category, Kyle Blemel's maple cake in the youth division, and Karen Crowningshield's maple bars recipe in the adult category, while the honorable mention went to Julie Duso for her Maple Pudding Cake. A beard contest, also a traditional event in the Maple Sugar Festival, was also held. Bernard Duso won longest and whitest; Philip Jackson won thickest and grayest; Marshall Crowningshield won scraggliest and most promising beard, and Rev. Fred Shaw won most distinguished. Syrup for the event was donated by Tony Corwin of South Meadow Farm, Bruce Misarski of Wadhams and Bradley French of Essex. Rivermede Farm of Keene Valley served as the vendor for the event, producing treats like maple cotton candy, along with selling syrup by the galloon. Robert Hastings, owner of Rivermede Farm, said its been a strange season for sugar makers a late start, and unusual spring weather. Margaret Gibbs, director of the Essex County Historical Society, said the event would take place annually until 2009, when the region celebrates the Champlain Quadricentennial.

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