Sharon Lloy’s Raymond farm is one of dozens expected to take part in Maine Maple Fall Fest Oct. 9-10. Kristen McNerney / Lakes Region Weekly

Early fall is usually a slower season at Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Raymond, but next month Sharon Lloy will open her sugarhouse doors to the public as part of the second annual Maine Maple Fall Fest.

Balsam Ridge, operated by Lloy and her husband Dewey, is one of dozens of maple farms across the state expected to participate in the Oct. 9-10 festival, an event held for the first time last year after the pandemic forced the cancellation of Maine Maple Sunday.

The fall festival, which will showcase maple products ranging from syrup to baked goods and include tours and syrup tastings, provides the farms with another opportunity for business, said Maine Maple Producers President Scott Dunn of Dunn Family Maple in Buxton.

“It had been on the association’s radar for years but there hadn’t been any push for it” until last year, he said.

Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Raymond has more than 1,200 maple taps. Lakes Region Weekly / Kristen McNerney

With smaller crowds in comparison to Maine Maple Sunday, festival goers can expect a quieter experience. Around 50 or 60 farms across the state participated last year, Dunn said, and about the same number are expected to take part in two weeks.

“It’s just one more avenue to meet your public,” Lloy said.

Dunn’s Buxton farm will be participating. A list of participants, map, hours and activities, can be found on the mainemapleproducers.com website.

Maine has 450 licensed maple producers that make more than 575,000 gallons of syrup annually, making it the third largest producer in the country after Vermont and New York. The maple syrup industry generates $27 million a year for the Maine economy and employs more than 560 people.

In late February, the Lloys harvest hundreds of gallons of sap in preparation for the traditional Maine Maple Sunday. After Thanksgiving, they’re busy helping families pick out Christmas trees and wreaths. Fall is usually an off-season, but the festival changes that.

Lloy will be serving festival-goers spiced cider by a fire, or cold cider if it’s warm, and selling homemade maple baked beans; an assortment of syrups including vanilla bean and bourbon maple; maple lollipops; maple barbecue sauce; and maple-covered nuts.

Each mapling season, Balsam Ridge Each syrup yield is stored in stainless steel drums inside the sugarhouse and ready to be made into whatever product Lloy desires. With wild grapes growing within the bounds of her 50-acre property, maple grape jelly is one product that stands out.

The event will bring awareness to the work she and others across the state do every year, she said.

“It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup,” Lloy said. The sap drawn from over 1,200 taps on the farm is carried through pipes to the sugarhouse, where long days are spent boiling it into syrup during about six weeks starting in mid to late February every year.

Balsam Ridge will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 9-10.

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