58th Annual Maple Festival Wrap-up
Now that the 58th Annual Maple Festival is in the books, we spoke to Highland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dorothy Stephenson for her thoughts on how the event had gone.
“ All in all, I think we had a pretty good Maple Festival. The first Saturday was obviously a huge crowd – from everybody I talke to, it was record crowds. There was a lot of food sold, vendors sold a lot of their products, the maple capms did really good, so I definitely think it was record crowds that day. Obviously, the second weekend was not as good as the first weekend. That eight inches of snow forecast seemed to scare everybody, but we tried to get the word as best we could that there was, in fact, no slow laying on the ground, and it was actually just laying in the trees, real pretty. We did field a lot of calls about the Maple Festival, and if it was still on, and how the road conditions were, and we tried to get the word out as much as possible, and it seemed to help a little bit, but the crowds were still happy to be here.
Ms. Stephenson talked about lessons learned from her first two years of oversight, but remained tight lipped on any future changes for the Festival itself.
“Last year, I jumped into the deep end and had a lot to learn then, still have a lot to learn, but having one more year behind me, I think the biggest thing I want to try to do better next year is market the Festival better, market it differently. We’ve had marketing in the past and we’ve done a good job with it, but I want to try and take it to the next level. We did a lot of social media marketing and targeting specific audiences – obviously that gets one audience, but there’s still an audience that still reads the papers and things like that. I’ve definitely got a lot in mind next year, to try and do to catch both audiences, try to get the younger generation, and the older generation, get the information out to both of them.
“I would be interested to see next year if we still have the same response and if our marketing efforts attributed to any of that, and hopefully next year we can find a way to collect a little more data and try to see exactly what marketing efforts or what drew the people in.
“We got some ideas from this past Festival, but it’s still too soon to probably say what we may plan to do next year, but we have some possibilities of some things – I can’t do much more than that.
”As always, I look around every time I’m running from one place to the other and see the volunteers – we all really pull together, work hard, support each other – it’s a team effort. It’s kind of a really good feeling to go through Maple Festival, and look at somebody else from the community, and you get that “We’re doing it, we’re getting there, we’re almost done” kind of look, and it helps you remember the community that we have in Highland County, and I think a lot of the visitors really see that and really appreciate it. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, one thing our visitors really notice about us is how much we pull together as a community, so I think Maple Festival is just kind of the exclamation point on that sentence.”
Whatever the plans, Ms. Stephenson has the marketing and people skills to meet the challenges head on, as she demonstrated in her answer to the question of what her favorite part of the Festival had been.
“So, the best part of the Festival, I would have to say, by far, bar none, would be hosting and being on the radio with the greatness of Scott Smith. That was just the icing on the maple doughnut to the whole festival for me. I’m truly awed and humbled by that amazing experience.”
Ms. Stephenson’s check is in the mail.