This was not the ol’ fashioned, trek in the woods, maple-ly experience that I envisioned when I think of ‘maple syrup festival’.
We arrived at the Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival at 2pm on a Saturday during March Break. It cost $17 to get in and we were told the festival closes at 3pm. Really, 3pm? On a Saturday? During March Break? Yes I know I should have planned our arrival time better and the times are clearly displayed on their website….
With the clock ticking, we raced to park in section D which is where the “pancake house” was located.
**EDIT: Please take a look at the comment from Sheila @ Ontario Parks below this post. She offers some good tips to get the most out of this experience!
Maple Syrup Festival – Fantasy vs. Reality
When I think of ‘maple syrup festival’ I imagine:
You park in a bland gravel lot and then walk across a bland field to get to the snack shop which is doubling as the pancake house.
As you come around the corner you see the line up. It’s a long line up, snaking all the way through the building and outside the door.
While you wait in the cold concrete surroundings, you can enjoy the view of the park’s garbage wagon to your left, or the recycling bins to the right.
After 30 minutes, out of our ONE precious hour before closing, we reach one of only TWO cashiers. We paid around $20 for our pancakes, sausages, juice boxes and a hot chocolate.
After ordering you have to endure another line up to get your food. The servers plunked our pancakes and sausages on the plate with about as much enthusiasm that my husband had when arriving for root canal day.
There are two outdoor eating areas with picnic tables (one area was covered) and when we finally sit down to eat we realize we picked up 4 knives and 1 fork. I went back to get some extra napkins and forks only to find that the doors shut and lock behind you. If you want back into the building then you have to go to the main door and squeeze and snake your way past the long line of people…
So how did they taste?
Pancakes were good, sausages were good, syrup was good. Everything was good. But so are the pancakes I make every weekend for about 50 cents worth of ingredients 🙂
Activities For Kids
After the long wait to eat we had to rush to see the rest of the festival. We had to go back across the bland field and get in our car to drive to another parking area.
There were booths selling different items, pony rides (for a fee), maple taffy (or whatever it’s called – for a few and the line up was too long so we didn’t get to try). If you wanted to eat or drink anything, it’s an extra cost. This was a big disappointment.
There is a barn with some old fashioned games, my kids enjoyed (free).
Cows and hay bales to see (free).
There were a couple of gift shops but we didn’t go in them.
My kids enjoyed opening the lids of the maple sap buckets.
The Bottom Line
My kids enjoyed themselves, so I guess that’s all that matters right 😉 But they would have probably enjoyed themselves on any regular day at Bronte Creek Provincial Park as well. I didn’t find this experience to be all that much different from any other day at that park. We showed up right before closing so maybe we missed a number of demonstrations and other events?
My husband and I wanted more of an actual maple syrup festival feel (see images above 🙂 ) and we don’t feel we got that here.
What maple syrup festivals have you been to in the Hamilton/Oakville/Burlington/Milton area? How do they compare?
- The park areas we visited were stroller friendly
- Washrooms in a few places throughout
- Your park entrance fee doesn’t include any of the food or drinks
- Pancakes and sausages were good, but nothing spectacular
- Free parking with admission
- The other park areas, not a part of the festival are still open (play barn, slides)