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Annual Maple Festival to feature Amish sugar shanty

Organizers of Western New York's longest-running community festival like to joke about how they prolong the winter to make enough maple syrup to supply the 44th Annual Western New York Maple Festival April 29 and 30.

Then, as the end of April approaches, Maple Festival Committee Chairman Marty Brisky is expected to predict a "70 degrees and sunny" weekend, the white lie signaling that the year's crop of syrup has been finished off.

In truth, veteran festival attendees know that the weather can be unsettled and most dress for a country hike among the craft booths, industry exhibits and implement show on the lawns and inside the buildings at Franklinville Elementary School and the old Ten Broeck Academy.

One of the new attractions will be a resurrected exhibit of a working Amish-made hemlock sugar shanty. The shanty is new, but the concept is a throwback to the early days of the festival.

The sugar shanty will feature a steam-belching cupola, set up as a centerpiece just outside the elementary school entrance. It will be manned by members of the Western New York Maple Producers, who will boil sap and conduct syrup-making demonstrations.

The building is set up on skids and can be used by the Creekside Roundup Committee for another event in the fall and by the village for its Christmas in Park Square event. It is being constructed with a $6,000 grant provided by State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean.

Another new attraction, absent for decades, is an Antique Show and Sale geared to real antiques, not reproductions, that will reopen the Franklinville Central High School and Ten Broeck Academy to festivalgoers for the first time in years.

The Maple Fest organizers are hoping up to 45 antique dealers will reserve a spot in the gymnasium by calling Todd Dingman, operator of Sap Bucket Antiques, at 676-5614.

Another first is a Maple Dessert Bake-off, open to anyone with a favorite maple-centered recipe who can enter by an April 13 deadline. Download an application from the Franklinville Chamber of Commerce Web site, http://chamber.franklinville.org.

A group of local equestrians promises a picturesque photo opportunity from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday with another first: A draft horse plowing demonstration and obstacle course exercises for the teams on the north end of the school.

A relative newcomer on the growing Maple Fest bill is DeLynns' Gallery's third anniversary art show, to be held throughout the weekend at 22 Park Square.

Also on tap are the usual Saturday ham and leek dinner, library book sale Saturday and ending at 2 p.m. Sunday, and the Miner's Cabin open house Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

A king and queen will be chosen from a roster of high school contestants April 27, and the antique engine and implements will be on display outside the school Saturday, with an antique auto show on Sunday.

With the festival only five weeks away, Brisky says some of the key organizers have a shortage of volunteers. Anyone interested in helping out should call Brisky at 557-2498 or visit the chamber's Web site and call one of the contact numbers listed there.

As many as 100 volunteers are needed to cook and serve pancakes in two-hour shifts throughout the weekend. Floats are needed for the maple-themed parade that steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday and awards prizes in several categories.

A square dancing exhibition at 4 p.m. Saturday is in the works and outdoor musical performers with an old-time or acoustic repertoire are being sought.

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