Over the years, maple farmers in the quaint village of Marathon would invite family, friends, and neighbors to the “sugarin’,” where maple sap is collected and boiled to make maple syrup. That tradition has continued in the form of the annual Marathon Maple Festival. This year’s festival is slated for April 10-11, marking the 40th year of the festival, which more than 100,000 people are expected to attend.
The festival has evolved into a tasty treat for all the senses. While the celebration of maple products is the main draw, visitors are treated to one of Central New York’s finest arts and craft shows, a quilt show, live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, helicopter rides, pony rides, train rides, wood cutting demonstrations, one-room school house tours, food and lots more!
Many visitors from the Cortland area enjoy a scenic train ride along the Tioughnioga River to the depot in downtown Marathon. The depot is a quick walk to all of the festivities. The trains run all day, with a round-trip fare for about $10.
Don’t miss a tour of the Sugar Shack for a close-up view of the sugaring process, where a wood fire boils maple sap into fresh golden syrup. Then, head next door to the Maple Museum to view historic displays of maple processing equipment. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Maple Festival Queen and her court.
Maple flavor is the key for handmade maple candy, maple sundaes, and maple-flavored cotton candy. Don’t go home without some real maple syrup! There is food on every street, including beef barbecue, bake sales and the annual pancake eating contest.
The Village of Marathon is located on Interstate 81, 10 miles south of Cortland, 20 miles north of Binghamton, and 20 miles east of Ithaca. For more information, visit www.maplefest.org
by Kristian S. Reynolds