Geauga Maple Festival opens with residents flocking to Chardon Square

Maple Festival runs through Sunday

CHARDON, Ohio - Nancy Jensen had her two youngest children right in the middle of Chardon Square on a picnic table steaming in the cold air with fresh pizza. Her son, John, had just devoured one piece topped with pepperoni, working diligently on his second. He noticed the carnival rides weren't moving.

"Why aren't the rides moving," John Jensen, a pre-schooler, asked.

As it turns out, the carnival rides that were set up around the square in bright colors were still being worked on for final mechanical details until their 4 o'clock start. Until then, food from every imaginable vendor was the main attraction. The Jensen family figured it out pretty quickly.

Nancy Jensen's second grade daughter Melissa was still in school. She recently won the title of Geauga Maple Festival Princess after winning a competition for talent. Melissa's? A book written and illustrated about the Geauga Maple Festival. She and a prince will support the teenager led queen's court of the Geauga Maple Festival.

"It's a fantastic festival and we always say here, if it hasn't snowed it's not a Maple Festival. Since it snowed last night we've checked it off the list," laughed Nancy Jensen.

While countless pre-schoolers were buzzing around after one too many elephant ear pastries, Ellen Martonchik was setting up her vending spot on the sidewalk across the street from the food vendors on the west side of the Chardon Square.

Martonchik's pendants, made of simple hardware store washers on one side, ornate designs on the other, for the consumer looking for everything from an Ohio State Buckeyes logo to the latest boy band name, has been coming to the festival since 1958 when she was 3 years old. She says its an annual social event to catch up with decades-old friends who all come out after a long winter.

"It's the place to meet with old friends, keep going around the circle until you meet all your classmates, all their children, and all the grandchildren. It kind of brings back all the memories of being young and going on the rides and the maple stirs. It's a good place," said Martonchik.

Local food and wine vendor Eric Hart had a prime spot in a vending tent right next to the center sidewalk. He's happy this venue is close to home, as opposed to others requiring travel to sell his wares.

"It's close to home. I get to sleep in my own bed and the money's good. It's a great festival," said Hart.

The Geauga Maple Festival schedule is Friday April 26, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday the 27th, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday the 28th, 11 a.m., ending at 7 p.m.

For information on The Buckeye Chocolate Company go to: www.buckeyechocolate.com

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