SIDNEY — Steve Pouliot lifted his grandchildren high above the crackling sap Sunday for a look inside the evaporator.

“Brown stuff boiling,” 3-year-old Addilyn said.

“It smells good,” 7-year-old Elijah added.

Wolf Creek Maple on Middle Road in Sidney welcomed Pouliot’s family Sunday morning as Maine Maple Sunday made its return. The coronavirus pandemic canceled last year’s event, traditionally held on the fourth Sunday in March.

“I want to continue to show them what goes in this process and make sure it’s not a lost thing,” Pouliot said.

The Maine Maple Producers Association pivoted and hosted its first Maine Maple Producers Weekend in October, where maple wrestled its way into the fall flavor conversation. Wolf Creek Maple opened from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Maine has about 450 maple producers across the state. The industry brings in about $27 million annually, half of which has typically come Maine Maple Sunday.

Down the road from Wolf’s Creek, Bacon Family Farm Maple Products appeared to be doing quite the business. About two dozen cars lined up at Pond Road and two dozen more on Goodhue Road.

A line of about 100 eager patrons stretched from the sugarhouse outside, everyone awaiting opportunity to buy maple syrup and other goodies.

Wolf Creek Maple saw a steady flow of customers at its sugar house on Middle Road. Owner Gerry Campbell, who grew up on the property, boiled sap and showed visitors how syrup is made. Stasha Baldwin also engaged visitors, handing out small syrup samples.

As a COVID-19 precaution, masks were required at both Wolf Creek Maple and Bacon Family Farm Maple Products.

Campbell, 38, built the sugarhouse four years ago. Off a dirt road, the sugarhouse is the first property seen at Wolf Creek Maple. There are barns and 35 Hereford cows in back. A few chickens are scattered about, too. Campbell’s parents live at Wolf Creek Farm, which is a mile or so down the road.

On Sunday, Campbell, also a technician at Conrad’s Auto Body in Oakland, hosted his third Maine Maple Sunday.

Wolf Creek Maple taps about 400 trees and Campbell’s evaporator formerly belonged to a friend.

He participated in the event last fall, but said Sunday the traditional timing is better.

“Doing the maple Sunday in the offseason is not the same, because you’re not boiling syrup,” Campbell said. “You can boil water and sap and you get the illusion of maple syrup, but you don’t get the smell.”

The smell of maple permeated the sugarhouse and the outside. Although the weather Sunday was a bit gloomy, cheery patrons learned the syrup-making process and bought bottles of the thick, sweet liquid.

Darren Doucette, right, and wife, Danielle, hold the hands of daughter, Brina Jo, 17 months, while walking the barnyard at Wolf Creek Maple in Sidney. The family navigated muddy conditions while touring the barnyard and watching cattle eat near the barn. The Sidney family also watched steam rise from a maple syrup evaporator inside Wolf Creek Maple’s sugar shack. The operation was featured as part of Maine Maple Sunday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Campbell said recent warm weather has limited the volume of sap and reduced the sugar content. The maple season lasts between four and six weeks.

As time goes on and the pandemic abates, Campbell said he hopes to host a pancake breakfast and sell items in addition to syrup.

“We’re just starting out showing what we do,” he said. “At some point, we’ll do something like that, when things change with what’s going on.”

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