Maple Festival has a sweet impact on local businesses in Highland County

“It really makes a huge impact on whether we are able to continue our operations throughout the rest of the year.”

MCDOWELL, Va. – Get ready for a sweet weekend! It’s the start of the Highland County Maple Festival. You can enjoy a number of sweet treats and learn all about maple syrup. However, while you are enjoying all the goodness of the festival, remember the good it has done for the community.

Glenn Heatwole, the owner of Sugar Tree Country Store, says, “There is good food, good products, that are homemade here in the county, and it helps the industry and the county because it is some of the county’s only income source.”

He says the Highland County Maple Festival is the main way that most organizations and businesses like his make their money.

“It is a big part of the income for the store, but it is an overwhelming amount of people that go through this store because it is a lot of work,” says Heatwole.

It may be hard work, but he loves to do it. Glenn and his family have been in the maple business for about 18 years. During the festival, all of his family helps out to make it a success.

He says, “Our family of five children come and bring their children, our grandchildren and they all stock shelves bag groceries and bag things here in the store.”

One of the biggest sellers in their store is maple candy, but they make all sorts of sweet treats.

“We take the maple syrup and we make maple candy, maple fudge, maple peanut butter candy, we cover nuts with maple syrup,” says Heatwole.

Another local business that relies on the maple festival is Claire’s Cakes and Café.

Claire Sax, the owner, says, “It really makes a huge impact on whether we are able to continue our operations throughout the rest of the year.”

For the festival, Claire has a collection of homemade goods from maple bacon cupcakes to vanilla cupcakes with maple syrup and maple frosting and a maple pecan pastry.

The whole town is gearing up for the next two weekends and they can’t wait to share what they have made with everyone.

Heatwole says, “God has been good, we have had a good season, we’ve made a lot of syrup.”

If you want to get your hands on some of the tasty treats and try some real maple syrup, the festival is open on March 11th, 12th, 18th, and 19th.

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