By Katy Savage
Baird Farm syrup in Chittenden is getting national attention as a local resident competes on ABC’S dating reality show, “The Bachelor.”
On the show, former Pittsford resident Gabi Elnicki steps out of a limousine carrying a pint of maple syrup from Baird Farm. As she meets the bachelor, Zach Shallcross, a 26-year-old tech executive who splits time between California and Texas.
“I’m from Vermont so I brought a little bit of home,” Elnicki says to Shallcross. “It’s my right to force you to drink maple syrup.”
Shallcross takes a sip.
“Mapley,” he tells her.
Jenna Baird, the owner of Baird Farm, heard about Elnicki’s bid for Shallcross’ heart from a friend. She was surprised to see her family’s maple syrup on national television.
“I messaged her on Instagram just to say, ‘thank you for sharing our maple syrup with Zach,’” she said.
Baird has known Elnicki since she was a child. Elnicki and her parents and are longtime customers.
“We usually see them a couple times a year,” Baird said. “They’ve been loyal customers of ours for a while.”
Baird Farm is a 560-acre farm that has been in the Baird family for four generations. Baird runs the farm with her partner, Jacob.
They tap 14,000 trees and make around 7,000 gallons of syrup a year. Baird Farm sells infused maple syrup, maple syrup ketchup, candies, hot sauces, maple butter and sugar.
Elnicki, now 25, was formerly a cheerleader at Rutland High School. Her father owns a scrap metal and recycling business.
Rutland High School cheer coach Cara Gauvin said Elnicki was on her team all four years in high school.
“She’s outgoing, she was a great teammate. She had a lot of friends,” Gauvin said.
Gauvin didn’t now Elnicki was going to be on show.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Gauvin said. “Gabi is a beautiful, intelligent, young woman. She’s pretty worldly.
Gauvin said Elnicki seems authentic on TV. “The mannerism and comments, you know it’s Gabi,” she said.
Elnicki has an older sister and a younger brother, who is a junior at Rutland High School.
“I see her parents at games all the time,” Gauvin said. “They’re sworn to secrecy.”
Elnicki graduated from the University of Mississippi with a business degree in 2019 and she now works as an account executive in Texas.
Attempts to reach Elnicki and her parents weren’t successful.
In her biography on the show, Elnicki credits her parents’ love as the “blueprint for the kind of love she hopes to find.”
“Gabi wants an honest, outdoorsy man who will always put her first,” her biography says. “While it may take a little time for Gabi to come out of her shell, once she does, Zach will learn that she’s adventurous, loyal and driven.”
On the show, she competes against 30 other women and according to RealitySteve, a spoiler website, Elnicki makes it to the top three.
She returned to Vermont with a camera crew on Oct. 31, 2022 to show Shallcross her hometown, according to RealitySteve.
Baird is hoping for more maple syrup scenes. She launched a giveaway on Instagram for a gallon of maple syrup in the wake of national attention.
“It’s weird to see somebody that you have seen in person so many times on TV,” Baird said.