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Thurman’s Jack Wax Party this Saturday has deep local roots

At the 2013 Thurman Jack Wax Party, organizer Kathy Templeton (left) serves up home-cooked food for area residents Hailey Sweet and Harley Fisk. The annual celebration heralding the upcoming arrival of spring — featuring Jack Wax or maple syrup ladled on snow — has local roots stretching back to the 1930s and likely as far back as the late 1800s. Since 1950, this party — which features live mountain music, savory food and spirited conversation — has raised money for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.  This year’s edition is to be held Saturday March 15 at the Thurman Town Hall in Athol, beginning at 4 p.m. 
Photo by Thom Randall

At the 2013 Thurman Jack Wax Party, organizer Kathy Templeton (left) serves up home-cooked food for area residents Hailey Sweet and Harley Fisk. The annual celebration heralding the upcoming arrival of spring — featuring Jack Wax or maple syrup ladled on snow — has local roots stretching back to the 1930s and likely as far back as the late 1800s. Since 1950, this party — which features live mountain music, savory food and spirited conversation — has raised money for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. This year’s edition is to be held Saturday March 15 at the Thurman Town Hall in Athol, beginning at 4 p.m. Photo by Thom Randall Photo by Thom Randall.

— Folks from near and far will get a hearty helping of savory homemade food as well as a taste of

Adirondack community spirit this weekend as they attend the annual Thurman Old-Fashioned Jack Wax Party.

Also known as the Sugar Party, the event has been an annual fund-raiser in this rural mountain town since people arrived in sleighs and by horseback.

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Hoddy Ovitt and the Warren County Ramblers sing their distinctive brand of traditional mountain music at the 2013 Thurman Jack Wax Party. Hoddy and his cohorts will be appearing at the 2014 edition of the party, set to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday March 15. Photo by Thom Randall

Open to the public, the event is a blend of friendly conversation, hearty home-cooked food and rollicking mountain music. It’s to be held Saturday March 15 in the Thurman Town Hall. The meal begins at 4 p.m. and lasts until all are served.

Since the 1930s and perhaps decades before, townspeople in Thurman have held this event celebrating the end of winter, sharing a meal topped off with Jack Wax. This age-old New England treat is made by ladling fragrant, boiled-down maple syrup — fresh from local “sugar bushes”— onto snow or ice crystals, which gives it a taffy-like consistency.

But the event is far more than sharing a savory meal together pot-luck style at long tables, swapping tales, listening to home-grown music, and greeting neighbors after a long winter.

It’s not only a communal tribute to upcoming spring, but it’s also a matter of sharing and caring for others in need. This annual community party represents reaching out to others by raising money for the American Cancer Society both for research and to help families in the area.

This has been the party’s main purpose for 55 years, although some local old-timers remember attending Thurman Jack Wax parties in the 1930s — and others tell of the celebrations going back to the late 1800s.

Annually over the last half-century, the event has drawn a large number of people from neighboring counties — and even nearby states — to experience the age-old North Country rite.

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