A crowd gathers to visit Back Ridge Sugar House in Winterport on March 24, 2019, for Maine Maple Sunday. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN

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The Maine Maple Producers Association announced on Monday that all events should be postponed for Maine Maple Sunday Weekend, which was scheduled for March 21 and 22, in response to the spread of COVID-19 throughout Maine.

During the statewide event, dozens of maple producers throughout Maine open their sugar houses to the public to sell products and provide family-friendly activities that celebrate the state’s maple industry.

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“This was a very difficult decision and will significantly impact all members across the state, but as an association we feel this is the right thing to do for public health,” the Maine Maple Producers Association said in a written statement. “We plan to host Maine Maple Sunday Weekend when the timing is right.”

Some maple producers had already decided to cancel their events prior to this announcement.

The directors of the association, which owns the trademark for the event, made the decision by phone on the morning of March 16.

The decision was based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local government officials to limit large gatherings and practice social distancing at this time.

In past years, the statewide event has attracted up to 100,000 visitors annually to as many as 60 sugar houses throughout the state. This year, the event was gearing up to be even larger.

“During the past year, we added more members [to the Maine Maple Producers Association] and as many as 140 locations we’re going to participate this year, more than doubling the number from previous years,” said Scott Dunn, president of the Maine Maple Producers Association. “I know our members are looking forward to having the event in the coming months and when the timing is right.”

The Maine maple industry is made up of more than 450 maple producers licensed to sell maple products. The Maine Maple Producers Association represents more than 250 of these licensed maple producers. Producers range from small artisan producers to bulk syrup providers that serve major grocery store chains, foodservice distributors and retailers.

Each year, the state makes more than 575,000 gallons of syrup, generating more than $27 million for the economy and supporting more than 560 fulltime and parttime jobs.

For many maple producers, Maine Maple Sunday Weekend is a major source of income for their operation.

“Many of these local family businesses rely on this time of year to promote their products, so we are now encouraging people to support your local maple producers during maple season and throughout the year,” Dunn said. “If you were one of the many people planning to attend one of the events, you can still order by phone or online from your local Maine maple producers.”

Phone numbers and websites for many local maple producers can be found on the Maine Maple Producers Association directory at mainemapleproducers.com.

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...