Despite the rain, crowds descended on more than 65 in-state sugar houses today, which opened their doors for Maine Maple Sunday.

Hundreds of visitors at Merrifield Farm in Gorham took hay rides, watched old-fashioned maple syrup techniques and watched a black smith work in his shop, in addition to watching the usual boiling off in the sap house.

Visitors at the Nash Valley Farm in Windham petted farm animals and lined up for free samples of maple syrup on ice cream.

“I like the smells of the maple syrup,” said Chad Witherow, 13, of Windham at the Nash Valley Farm.

Most participating sugar houses stayed open until 4 p.m., but a few stayed open later than that. A complete schedule is available on the Maine Maple Producers Association website.

Despite the fun times Sunday, the overall outlook wasn’t sweet. The buckets on the maple trees sat mostly empty. Last week’s warm weather stopped the flow of sap and cut the season short for the state’s maple-syrup producers.


Most say their production was cut by about half.

“You make the best of it,” said Robert Morrill, whose Nash Valley Farm’s output will drop from 100 gallons in 2011 to about 40 gallons this year.

In Gorham, visitors lined up for maple cotton candy at the gas-lit Jo’s Sugarhouse.

“It is a lot of work, but you make something that makes people happy,” said Jo Hartwell, the sap house’s owner.

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