Celebrating Maple Weekend in Oneida CountyOn March 24, many of our local and state elected officials were invited to participate in the Maple Weekend festivities along with myself. The Vernon-Verona-Sherrill FFA chapter hosted the official Oneida County maple tapping ceremony at their high school. They served many pancakes along with eggs, toast and sausage, all with pure maple syrup, to more than 700 people that weekend.

In attendance was Congressman Brandon Williams, New York State Department of Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, Assemblyman Brian Miller and Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol. Senator Joe Griffo and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon together presented a proclamation declaring March 24 as Maple Day in Oneida County, showing their unwavering support to agriculture and the FFA program.

The ceremonial maple tapping took place at the VVS campus. Submitted photo

The VVS FFA officers were busy working around the school with tours, tappings and providing education about maple products. The officers also gave several educational tours of their maple processing facility. Also in attendance was NYS FFA Reporter Elianna Tarrants, along with the VVS School Superintendent Martha Group.

I am so excited that FFA is still very much alive and well and growing in New York State. Back in 1977-78 in New Hampshire at the Winnisquam Regional High School, I was my chapter reporter and it is where it all started for me. From there I went on to Farm Bureau and retired as Oneida County president, and now I’m doing my Farmer Ben articles in the local papers and on the radio. I hope that 4-H, FFA and Farm Bureau organizations continue to be leadership programs that give students opportunities like I had.

A fun fact: According to the 2022 Ag Census, Oneida County had 35 registered maple producers who had 33,770 taps and produced about 8,600 gallons of syrup worth $500,000 annually. This is not including the extra sales of maple candies and other value-added products that have a direct economic impact in Oneida County and the agricultural community. (And there is without a doubt lots of backyard maple producers that aren’t registered.)

by Ben Simons