The Shepherd Sugar Bush Corporation was founded in 1958 to create the first annual Maple Syrup Festival. This was a one day event that made around 125 gallons of syrup, as well as serve a few hundred pancake and sausage meals. With the growth of the festival, it has turned into a three day event that serves around 11,000 meals. They also are able to fund a 10 week summer recreation camp for students of the district, maintain a community park, as well as purchase land that will hold future events.
This event would not be possible without the help of volunteers. They make around two and a half tons of sausage the week before. They all also work together during the festival to make sure things run smoothly. All the events are held in different areas of downtown Shepherd.
Thursday, April 27 is the opening day. These activities include pony rides, amusement rides, and flea market vendors. Friday, April 28 also has those events, but adds a few more events. They have the Lions Club bingo, indoor and outdoor crafts, pancake and sausage meals, maple syrups sales, a bake-off and a parade of emergency vehicles.
Becky Pifer is a resident of Shepherd. She has been attending the Maple Syrup Festival for the past 20 years with her family. Pifer has participated in events like the bake-off as well as the pancake meals, and many more.
“The Maple Syrup Festival is a great event that brings the community together through service, as well as supporting our local economy,” said Pifer.
Saturday, April 29 is their biggest day. The day begins with a 10K, 5K walk/run. All of the fun events held on Friday are also going on this day. There also is a classic car display. Sugar Bush has their maple syrup sales. They have a tractor pull and a bump n run demo derby. They have the Central Michigan area band play, as well as a community dance.
There also was a Maple Leaf decorating competition. The Shepherd Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Business After Hours where the winners were announced. First place went to Shepherd Elevator, second place was to MyTown Computer Service, and third place was to St. Vincent Preschool.
Ian Rhynard is the son of the president of Shepherd Sugar Bush Corp. He is one of the key volunteers for the selling of maple syrup. They offer a variety of items. From different sized containers of pure Michigan maple syrup, to fudge, to suckers, and many more items. Ian said that around 700 gallons of sap was collected in February to harvest by the time April hit. He also said that it takes around 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
Ron Rhynard is the president of Shepherd Sugar Bush Corp. He said that in February they collected around 2,500 buckets of sap. He also said that April is the mark of the end of sap season. He said the once the trees start budding and the nights start getting warmer the sap will slow its flow. He also said that this season was better than last.