For the first time in its 37-year history, Maine Maple Sunday weekend is being postponed at sugar houses across the state due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The popular event draws large crowds of people to sugar houses each year, where they can watch maple sap being boiled, eat pancakes smothered in syrup and purchase syrup directly from makers. The Maine Maple Producers Association decided to indefinitely postpone their signature event as the Maine CDC has recommended against large gatherings of people.

“We asked, ‘If we stay open, are we more concerned about money and sales?’” said Clark Cole, who has been sugaring in Dayton since 1972. “The conclusion was that we needed to be more concerned about people’s health.”

Cole says that, since the event is postponed, he’ll rely on selling his syrup at Andy’s Agway, which is located next to his sugar house.

Maple producers say it’s been a fairly good season with typical sap flow. Lyle Merrifield of Gorham says he will be boiling for a few more days yet and estimates that he’s made about 100 gallons of syrup so far this season. Though Maine Maple Sunday is postponed, Merrifield is keeping his sugar house open every day until March 29 so that people can buy syrup and avoid the usual crush of people. 

“We’ll be open all day every day,” he said. “That will hopefully alleviate any crowds.”

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