After 3 years of pandemic pivoting, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has announced it will be returning to an in person event on April 1st for its 59th year.
"It's really exciting. I think the community has missed it," says Matt Jessop, the committee chair for the 2023 and 2024 festivals.
This year's event was planned during the pandemic which Jessop noted has been a struggle especially in retaining volunteer team members.
"Our organizing committee has several vacancies at the moment. Our committee was made up of motivated individuals wanting to organize a festival and for the last three years not being able to do so has been difficult."
Jessop, however, remains optimistic that returning to an in person event will bring members back.
In terms of attendance in pre-pandemic years the festival saw tens of thousands of people from across the province attend the sugary sweet event.
However, Jessop believes weather dependent, this year will be the biggest yet.
"I think on average our attendance is between 60 to 70 thousand people and we are anticipating [this year] more people than we've ever had."
This year's festival will feature traditional staples such as food vendors, craft vendors and of course, pancakes.
However, Jessop said this year's event will feature some significant changes.
"The biggest change to note is the moving of our pancake venue. It's historically been right off of the downtown and we're now moving it to the Lion's Hall near the Woolwich Memorial Centre."
He says the goal is to provide a better eating experience for pancake lovers.
Other changes this year include a revamp to the festival's website and moving the toy show from being both a Friday and Saturday event to solely Friday evening.
Next year will mark the 60th anniversary for the festival and Jessop, looking to the future emphasized significant plans for the 2024 event matching that milestone.