The Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival has been a part of Todd Scheets life since its beginning days in 1969.
He was a volunteer for many years and says he isn’t sure how long he’s been the chairperson of the festival.
“I don’t remember,” Scheets said, laughing. “I’ve worked with three different Wakarusa Chamber of Commerce secretaries so probably about 12 years. I got involved with the festival because I live in Wakarusa and you are automatically involved from birth.”
What other jobs or volunteering has he done with the festival that stands out for him?
“In grade school if you were unlucky enough to have your gym class at the end of the class day and it happens to be on Friday of the festival you got stuck helping to roll out the tarps for the vendors,” he said. “After you were done with the tarps, you got to help the antique vendors bring in their sale items, or as we thought of it as ‘junk.’ I know better now. It wasn’t all junk. I also helped clean up afterward.”
Even though he’s the chairperson now, it hasn’t stopped Scheets from giving his time wherever needed, like helping make the kettle popcorn, setting up the stage, running to get items that “we” run out of, or working with vendors.
The festivities will be held in downtown Wakarusa Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 and many of the vendors arrive the day before. It’s one of the favorite parts of the festival for him.
“It’s a work of art getting everything ready to go — setting up Thursday night and watching everybody roll in and set up,” Scheets said.
Some of the other events and activities he enjoys are the garden tractor pull and the Wakarusa United Methodist church sausage sandwiches. He also enjoys the shows in the entertainment tent put together by Entertainment Chair Jenny Neely and, of course, the parade
“It’s a sea of humanity downtown after the parade,” Scheets said. “I guess everything (is my favorite part).”
In its early years, the festival was held the third week of March, but was switched to April for economical reasons, he said
The attendance averages between 12,000 to 14,000 visitors a year with about 75 to 100 volunteers to make the festival run smoothly between the many activities downtown, the Museum and at the sugar camp.
There are approximately 150 to 200 gallons of maple syrup consumed and purchased during a typical weekend, he added.
How much sap is needed to make a gallon of syrup?
“The ratio is 40 gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup,” he said. “I’ve loved it (maple syrup) right out of the box, actually out of the container.”