SIDNEY — When the black plastic gloves go on Shelley Bacon’s hands, it’s cotton candy time.

For years, the production of maple-flavored cotton candy and ice cream was reserved for the nine-day Windsor Fair. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nine-day late summer fair was postponed, so the team at Bacon Farm Maple Products in Sidney pivoted.

“I don’t want to say we’re doing better, but we’ve become more creative in how we’ve been doing things,” Bacon said.

This weekend, Oct. 9-11, Bacon Farm is participating in the 2020 Maine Maple Producers Weekend put on by the Maine Maple Producers Association. Traditionally, Maine Maple Sunday is held annually on the fourth Sunday in March, but this year’s was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is in line with the Fall in LOVE with Maple, North American Maple Tour, which runs from Oct. 9-18.

The Bacons’ farm is one of more than 30 maple farms across the state participating in the tour. By comparison, Maine Maple Sunday usually has approximately 120 sugarhouses participate. The Maine Maple Producers’ weekend kicks off Friday with a recipe contest at the Cumberland Fair sugar house. There will be traditional in-person experiences with proper coronavirus precautions in addition to some virtual elements planned for the weekend.

“When we first canceled Maple Sunday we reached out to other maple producing states about collaborating about a fall event,” said Scott Dunn, president of the Maine Maple Producers Association and owner of Dunn Family Maple in Buxton. “We got to a point with the safety where everyone is used to it in their normal lives.”


Patrons must be socially distanced and wear masks at all times. Sugarhouses must follow the same CDC guidelines as any other building. Bacon Farm is not allowing any patrons inside, but is opening a garage door next to the sugarhouse and encouraging patrons to picnic with their treats on their fields.

“It’s pretty much what you do in your everyday life now when you go to a store,” Dunn said. “Most sugarhouses, the access going into them is going to be restricted because of keeping people safe, but doors are going to be open so people can look into it. It’s outside sales primarily with some tours and questions and answers available.”

Shelley Bacon’s husband, Kevin Bacon, is one of the six generations of his family to live at the farm off Pond Road. When the Windsor fair shut down, they brought their ice cream and cotton candy machines back to the retail property on the farm. The Bacons expanded their hours. With a more robust offering including bacon topped sundaes, ice cream sandwiches and cakes, the business is “doing OK” despite the pandemic.

“It’s definitely been a challenge,” Shelley Bacon said.

“But it’s nothing we’re afraid of,” chimed in Rachel Giguere, a part-time assistant at the farm and a fellow 1993 graduate of Oakland’s Messalonskee High School.

The Bacons and Giguere are the farm’s only employees. They usually have more than 25 volunteers on Maine Maple Sunday, but this year they expect five or six. Normal Maine Maple Sunday weekends attract between 4,000 and 6,000 customers and more than 150 gallons of syrup are sold. This year’s event is a total unknown.


“I have no idea what will happen,” Shelley Bacon said.

“Our plan is to fill the shelves and have backup but not a lot,” said Giguere, who can practically finish her friend’s sentences. “We don’t want to lose product. It’s a scary situation.”

Batteridge Syrup in Clinton will open on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Normally, they participate in the full weekend on Maine Maple Sunday. They’re offering a sugarhouse tour and syrup samples and syrup will be for sale.

Shelley Bacon carries several containers of freshly made cotton candy Friday at Bacon Farm Maple Products in Sidney. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I’m hoping to recoup some of my losses of not being able to open in March,” said Andrew Miller, who also owns Wright Place Dairy Farm in Clinton with his wife, Caleigh, and in-laws. “It’s just a chance for people to come out and see how syrup is made, for people to try the product.”

Stasha and Gerry Baldwin of Wolf Creek Maple in Sidney are participating in their third straight year of maple events. The Baldwins also run a beef farm. Gerry Baldwin works full-time at Conrad’s Auto Body Shop and Stasha Baldwin works at Aubuchon Hardware and breeds cows for Genex.

Although Wolf Creek will not take part in Maine Maple Producers Weekend, the Baldwins instead will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 18 as part of the wider North America Maple Tour. During the last Maine Maple Sunday, the Baldwins sold 25 gallons of syrup. They likely won’t be doing samples due to coronavirus. With only 35 gallons remaining, the Baldwins only plan on opening the one day, but Wolf Creek Maple is inviting other merchants to participate.


“Because the sap’s not running right now, we’re going to try to boil water in the evaporator for aesthetics,” Stasha Baldwin said. “I do have a couple other vendors coming. One is going to do some food for a lunch, and I am hoping to get a local business that makes popcorn because they usually go to all the fairs.”

Wilson Family Maple Syrup in Albion is opening on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They gave up a hayride they usually do because of sanitization issues. There are also certain foods, such as popcorn, that they can’t package while still adhering to current coronavirus restrictions. They can do cotton candy and whoopie pies because those items are fully packaged.

The farm also plans to offer curbside products.

“We hope to be doing maple demonstrations, and it’s obviously going to be limited as to how many people are in the sugar shack, so that’s going to be an issue,” said co-owner Sherry Wilson. “Once you pull into the parking lot, you’re already kind of in the sugar shack, so it’s easy to do.”

Participating businesses remind patrons they will be adhering to coronavirus restrictions and participants should wear masks and socially distance. Hand sanitizing stations will be available.

“We don’t want to ruin this,” Wilson said.

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