By Karen D. Lorentz
The fourth annual Shriners’ pancake breakfast will take place at the Meeting House in Shrewsbury on Saturday April 2 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The buffet-style breakfast includes pancakes, bacon, sausage, juice and coffee and, of course, maple syrup.
The idea of a breakfast came about because Shriners Bill and Jeff Smith, who are sixth and seventh generation Shrewsbury farmers, could seldom make the many fundraising events that the Cairo Shriners hold annually. The Shriners want to transform the lives of children through specialized healthcare, and the real Vermont maple breakfast is a fundraiser that helps them accomplish that goal. Wanting to help, the Smiths rent the hall for the breakfast and provide the maple syrup for the pancakes. About twenty Shriners show up at 6 a.m. to set up, make and serve the breakfast, and clean up.
The Smiths also provide complimentary hay-wagon rides to their nearby sugarhouse, Maple Crest Farm at 2450 Lincoln Road in Shrewsbury—open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. with boiling starting around 11 a.m.
Jeff Smith enjoys explaining the evaporation process to visitors as he monitors gauges and checks the density of the syrup as it emerges from the evaporator. His helpers also explain the sap collection and filtering processes that precede the evaporation stage. Visitors are fascinated with the machinery and can be seen admiring the huge, gleaming modern evaporator that reaches to the barn’s roof.
The tour of the sugarhouse includes free samples of traditional sugar on snow, pickles, donuts, and maple cream for dipping pretzels. Maple products are for sale, ranging from lollipops and syrup to freshly spun maple cotton candy. The latter is the invention of Donna Smith, Jeff’s mother. In 1969 she asked someone to spin maple sugar in his cotton-candy machine. “He didn’t think it would work but it did,” Donna notes joyfully. Thanks to Donna’s daughter-in-law Mary Barnhart Smith who bought Donna a cotton-candy machine, kids of all ages can enjoy the treat at the Smith Sugarhouse this weekend!
To get to the Shrewsbury Meeting House and Maple Crest Farm from Rutland, drive south on Rte 103 past the Appalachian/Long Trail trailhead, then turn left onto Lincoln Road. The meeting house is located at the top of the hill, set back from the road on the left.