Sugaring time

Leah Fournier Della Porta

Sugar Party in Sutton, 1934  (Photo : coll. Gertrude Fournier)

When spring arrives our thoughts turn to sugar on snow and maple syrup. This is a very special time for young and old. Every year at the Rhicard’s in Stanbridge East, there is a wonderful day organized on their farm. You can get great doughnuts cooked in maple syrup, taffy on snow with little pickles to take away the sweetness (you must try this next time you attend). In one of the barns, you can hear the sounds of a fiddle playing some western songs. The music is wonderful.

They also have horses and wagons to give everyone a ride. The children really love this and they can get on more than once. They also sell their syrup, hot soups, hot-dogs and sandwiches, and coffee and tea. There is also a bake table with loads of assorted rolls, cakes, pies and cookies. It is a great time for everyone and they do this for a really good cause. The proceeds of this party go to the Brome-Missisquoi hospital, which is very precious to all the town-shippers.

This party stirs up thoughts of many other sugar parties, especially for my Mom who years ago, around 1934, she would be about 20 years old at the time, was invited by friends to go to Sutton for a sugar party. In those days, they actually collected the sap from the tapped trees and put it in large vats that were pulled by horse-drawn sleighs. They brought coffee and sandwiches with them and had their lunch outside.

I also particularly like this little shack in Brigham that belongs to the Meunier family and where this friend of mine who is a great cook by the way, makes all the meals for the parties. It is a small place, accommodates about 40 people or so, but it is very quaint and cozy. Her menu consists of the following : pea soup, ham, baked beans, omelets and something called ‘oreilles de crisse’ (translation : fried pork bellies), very crispy and tender, yummy. She also makes pancakes and dumplings (‘grands-pères’) with maple syrup. After dinner you can go outside where they have sugar on snow. You should make reservations if you plan to visit as it is a very busy place.

Two girls from Senegal, last year, at Sugaring Party  (Photo : Lise Pagé)

Last year, at Meunier’s they had some nurses from Senegal with their Canadian friends that were here on a visit. They found this incredible. Coming from their country, I guess they had never experienced such a delight. It was great fun and the food was excellent.  So when the time comes this spring, get a group together and go to a sugar party of your choice. You will enjoy it so much, bring the children. It’s a wonderful time of the year.



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