April 27th is the day many people in Chardon Ohio and the surrounding area have been waiting for all year. Today is the opening day of the 2017 Geauga County Maple Festival. For many this is the first Ohio festival to open every year. A chance to enjoy the festivities , the contests and load up on fair food and of course have more than one maple stir. The maple festival is an opportunity to celebrate the maple syrup industry and what it means to Geauga County. It salutes the men and women who produce one of nature’s most perfect foods. In 2017 two milestones were reached at the Geauga County Maple Festival Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony. For the first time, a prominent maple syrup producing family had a 3rd generation inducted into the Geauga County Maple Syrup Producers Hall of Fame. Also when the awards was announced for the grand champion maple syrup produced in Geauga County a new record was set for the number of times that this award was given to an individual sugar bush.
On April 22, 2017 two members from different sides of the Timmons Family were inducted into the Geauga County maple Syrup Hall of Fame. Robert Timmons father of Richard and George and Roderick Timmons the father of Sterling Timmons were the 2017 inductees. Two sides of the family tree living and farming within a few miles of each other in Auburn Township. Robert’s family grew up on Munn Road Township on dairy farm where they made syrup on a 3000 Tap sugar bush. Down the Road and around the corner the Roderick Timmons family also owned a dairy farm and a 2000 tap sugar bush. Both sides of the family had seen member inducted previously. Roberts’s sons Richard and George and their wives Ruth and Clare were the first members of the family to be inducted in the Hall of fame in 1987. Roderick’s son Sterling and his wife Jean were inducted in 2000. Finally Richards’s son Jim and his wife Penny were inducted into the hall in 2010. More than one maple producing family has had 2 generations receive the honor but up until now no family has had a third generation inducted. It is only fitting that this honor be given to the Timmons family for all the support both sides of the family tree have given to the Geauga County Maple Industry. On hand to receive the honor were two of the grandchildren, one from each side of the family. On hand to receive the award for Roderick was granddaughter, Polly Fenton. Polly’s father, Sterling Timmons moved the family to central Ohio during the mid-nineties when the new St. Rt. 422 was extended through the middle of their farm. Polly remarked that after discovering some maple trees on the new farm, one first things Dad did, was to build a sugarhouse. Today Son Terry runs 500 taps keeping the maple tradition alive. On the Robert Timmons side of the family Grandson Jim accepted the award. Jim’s side of the family, represents, the third, fourth and fifth generations now producing maple syrup. Jim now operates a 4000 tap sugar bush on the home farm in Burton Township. Jim remarked that his grandfather would not believe the way we make syrup today. Congratulations to both sides of the Timmons Family.
This year also marked the first time that any sugar bush has won the top producer award more than more than 8 times. That honor up until this year was held by Rhodes Sisters and their father Anson Rhodes The new honor of 9 grand champion awards goes to Soubousta Farm of Chardon Ohio. The first 4 times the honor was bestowed on the original owner of the farm Ed Soubousta. The last 5 Championship Awards were won by Ed’s Nephew Robert Butler. This is an achievement and a record that may never be duplicated again unless Bob and his partners add a couple more top producer awards to their list of achievement’s.
Last year the entry format was changed and the In County entries are now judged by individual grade. Awards were given for the top 7 entries in each grade. The Top Winner and overall winner of The Golden Delicate class was Soubousta Farm. First place in the Amber Rich class was Tom Salo of Montville and the first place winner in the Dark Robust class was Carl and Karen Defillippo also from Montville. The first place winner in the Out of County entry was The Goodell Farm from Mantua Portage County. Stephanie Bartlett of New bury was your Grand Champion Adult Candy Maker. Winning the Grand Champion Junior Candy maker award was Anthony Barham of Chardon. The Grand Champion Syrups and the top placing syrups in all categories will be auctioned off on Sunday April 30th at 12:30 on the Main Street Stage. The weather looks like it will cooperate with only a slight risk of showers. Come out and enjoy the festival and all things maple.
Les Ober Geauga County OSU Extension