The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 29, 2012

Crowd gathers in Chardon for Geauga County Maple Festival crowd gathers in Chardon Square

CHARDON — Tradition is a big part of the Geauga County Maple Festival that has been celebrating the area’s maple syrup production for 83 years.

Syrup contests, pancake breakfasts, princess competitions and two parades all make the festival weekend a highlight of the year for many area residents.

“It’s a lot of fun. You get to see a lot of people you don’t see very often,” said festival volunteer Tim Grau who announced the parade in front of the grandstand in downtown Chardon.

Parade fans gathered in spots along the parade route with heavy coats, blankets and food; lots of food.

Amy Eibler walked down the midway with her daughter Janie, 2, of Auburn, each enjoying a good batch of festival food. “We are getting a snack. You are sharing my guilty pleasure (fries) with the world, she said with a laugh.

Grau bantered with the crowd and gave a “10 minute” warning concerning the start of the parade.

Cathy Dewey, of Ashtabula, grew up in Chardon and attended Saturday’s event with a childhood friend.

“It’s been 40 years since I’ve been to it,” said Liz Carroll who now lives in San Antonio, Texas. She said she is impressed how the community has grown, but kept its rural charm.

“It’s just beautiful,” she said.

Dewey said she has wonderful childhood memories of the festival. “We lived to be up here (in the square) on Thursday night because rides were half price,” she said.

Many young children created their own memories as they participated in twirling groups, rode on floats or picked up candy and balloons from parade participants.

The memory of those killed and injured in the Chardon school shootings in February were not far from many people’s minds as “red ribbon” shirts were sold along the parade route.

The festival continues this morning with a five-mile race and the always entertaining bathtub races. A second parade also gets under way this afternoon at 3 p.m.

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