SIDNEY — White smoke billowing from stacks and second-story windows signaled the location of Bacon Farm Maple Products long before the sign on Pond Road.

Hundreds of people stood in a long line snaking up the dirt drive toward the barn and back toward the entrance to the sugar shack, all here for 2017 Maine Maple Sunday, an event celebrated at scores of maple sugar shacks throughout the state.

Twins Alex and Tiana Chetkauskas, both 6, and older sister Amethyst, of Waterville, waited anxiously to get inside the Bacon Farm sugar shack.

The attraction was maple cotton candy, according to their mom, and when the twins got the bag, both clutched it together.

The warm scent of heated maple syrup, the sunny day, and the friendly people made the wait more than tolerable.

Kevin Bacon, who owns the farm with his wife, Shelly, estimated that more than 4,000 people came through the sugar shack doors by about 2 p.m. Sunday to look at the stainless steel evaporators, taste the maple syrup atop Gifford’s vanilla ice cream and maybe grab a bag of maple-flavored cotton candy before venturing to the adjacent sales room. Bacon said about 1,000 people visited Saturday, but the bulk of the crowd was still coming through.

Shelves and tables held maple syrup, maple whoopie pies, maple tea, maple candy, maple peanuts, maple popcorn.

Bacon Farm was founded in 1881 by Henry Otis Bacon and was operated as a dairy and market farm.

“Maple syrup was produced in the spring to supplement the dairy,” according to the farm’s website.

Kevin Bacon is the fifth generation at the farm at Pond and Goodhue roads, where his son Nathan also works. In the spring, they tap more than 3,500 trees, using a blue pipeline collection system visible among the trees along Goodhue Road.

The farm, which is a member of Southern Maine Maple Sugar Makers Association and the Maine Maple Producers Association, also sells syrup-making equipment and supplies.

Kevin Bacon said that while some of the syrup produced there goes to wholesalers, “75 percent of the syrup goes right from here.”

So far this year, they have made 250 gallons of syrup, but he noted the season is still early.

He was monitoring a device pumping syrup into a 15-gallon barrel in which large wood-fired and oil-fired evaporators cooked off the water from the sap.

According to the Maine Maple Producers Association, which bills Maine maple syrup as “The Official Sweetener of Maine,” it takes 60 gallons of tree sap to produce 1 1/2 gallons of syrup.

Chris and Loretta Dutill of Mercer left the store with cotton candy, maple whoopie pies and an order for maple cream, a tasty treat spread on toast and bagels. While 9-month old Jamison slept through the visit snug in the carseat carried by dad, 5-year-old Jacobe already had put a dent in his maple cotton candy.

“We were lucky,” Chris Dutill said. “When we all went through we saw them pouring out the syrup.”

Loretta Dutill said they almost turned away after seeing the long line of visitors, by Jacobe insisted they remain.

“It’s a lot of people,” said Judy Meserve of Farmingdale, surveying the queue. “It’s pretty nice that people get out here and do this as a a family.”

Her husband, Jim, recalled when his parents made their own maple syrup at their home in Raymond.

“We had a kerosene stove in the kitchen running all the time,” he said. The maple sap was boiled down atop that.

Now the Meserves live in an area populated by oak trees. “You can’t tap them,” Jim Meserve said.

The price would determine whether he bought a large jug of maple syrup, he said.

“We take the real stuff camping, and everybody wants that, and I get out the Log Cabin (syrup),” Judy Meserve said. “He’s been trying to convert me for 30-some-odd years.”

Shawn and Michele Cole of Hartland brought their three children: Mathew, 4; Noella, 3; and Harrison, 22 months. They had no problem waiting in line for their treats although Noella said she thought there would be walking rocks inside. It was their first sugar shack visit as a family.

Sunday was the second time Olivia Farag, 10, of Oakland, had been to a sugar shack. She was too young to remember much about that, but mom Jaime Farag said, “She remembered them throwing syrup on ice.”

Some of the sugar shack traditions include throwing syrup on ice and picking up the resulting taffy by winding it round a lollipop stick.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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