Friday, March 30, 2018

Despite the cold weather, Maine Maple Weekend a success by Jennifer Davis

It was a cold day this past Sunday, but that did not stop the crowds of people from flooding into the Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Raymond looking to participate in this year’s Maple Syrup Sunday. Sharon and Dewey Lloy are the owners at Balsam Ridge and have been participating in Maple Syrup Sunday for the past 11 years.
“We are a family owned and operated Christmas Tree Farm established in 1993,” stated Sharon Lloy.
This photo was captured at the Merrifield Farm
When the farm was originally purchased, the main purpose was a Christmas Tree Farm. Then in 2007, the Lloy’s decided to add more to their farm by including a sugarhouse and gift shop to welcome guests. For them, it is not only Maple Syrup Sunday but Maple Syrup Weekend. “We always have done two days from the very beginning to accommodate people’s busy schedule,” said Sharon. “This allows for more options to be able to participate in this Celebration of Spring and Maine’s first Agricultural crop.”

With the high demand for their maple syrup, the Lloy’s expand production and their events each year. This year, there was a pancake breakfast, hotdogs with homemade maple baked beans, live entertainment, blacksmith demonstrations, chainsaw carving, tree tapping demonstrations and more. Those in attendance could also count on the classic maple syrup over vanilla ice cream.  All of this was made possible with the help of family, friends and the community. The Lloys have a group of about 24 people that help them during Maple Syrup weekend. “They are there for us no matter what Mother Nature throws our way,” stated Sharon.

This year offered a great crop that produced large amounts of sap. The Lloys tap over 1000 trees and use a tubing system and vacuum to collect the sap. “We find this process more efficient and a little less labor intensive than the buckets for the size of our operation. On a good day, 100 - 150 gallons per hour is pumped automatically to our sugarhouse.  Once the sap reaches the sugarhouse it goes through reverse osmosis and is then boiled down until it reaches the desired syrup. It is then filtered and bottled - an amazing process that begins in Maine’s beautiful woods. Customers often comment that we have the best tasting syrup around,” stated Sharon.

This year’s Maple Syrup Sunday brought thousands of people to Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm.  However, 2018 was extra special for the Lloy family. Not only did they have a great crop, but the Lloy’s daughter, Nicole and son in law, Steven welcomed their first child and the Lloys’ first grandchild, into their family - Nola Elizabeth Maeve. “Nola was due on Maple Sunday, but she came early to celebrate her first Maine Maple Sunday, so a new chapter begins,” said Sharon with excitement.

If you were unable to participate in this year’s Maple Syrup Sunday at Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm you can still do so by ordering products from their online store at  Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm will also be open on March 31st and the first weekend in April for people to visit the gift shop.

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