It seems that Shepherd/Salt River and Maple Syrup were destined to become one. Back in the early 1860' s, the Shepherd pioneers collected sap from the abundant Maple trees in the area. Since there were no stores in the general area in which they could buy sugar, candy, or syrup, they boiled sap and made their own.
The sugar products from the Maple trees were taken to larger cities such as Lansing, Saginaw, Saint Johns and the surrounding counties for sale. The profits from these sales were used to purchase much needed supplies for the newly forming community, which helped Salt River/Shepherd through the early harsh winters.
Almost 150 years later the community is still collecting sap and making Maple Syrup and candy, but today the profits are funding community projects.
On the last full weekend in April the people of the central Michigan community of Shepherd celebrate their annual Maple Syrup Festival. We cordially invite you to come celebrate with us.
The Board of Directors of the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce decided to promote a Maple Syrup Festival. The Shepherd Sugar Bush Corporation was created and planning began for our first one day festival where 125 gallons of maple syrup were made and we served a few hundred meals. Through the years we have grown to become a three day festival providing up to 11,000 meals. If it had not been for our many volunteers and visitors from locations all over Michigan and neighboring states, we never could have accomplished all that we have during the past half century.
The original idea for having the festival was to earn enough money to finance an eight week summer recreation program for children in our school district. As we have grown, we have been able to fund a ten week summer program, maintain a community park, and purchase a plot of land north of Shepherd where many of our events will be housed in the future.
All work on the syrup, candy, and all other areas of the festival is voluntary and almost everyone participates! Children work with adults carrying sap buckets during the sap run in late February or early March. Many retirees are our most faithful sausage makers. Would you believe that we make two and a half tons of sausage on the Saturday before the festival? Other pre-festival activities include a queen’s pageant, parade, and candy making. Then we all work together again during the festival weekend.
As usual there will be the famous and delicious Pancake, Maple Syrup, and Sausage Meals served at the Shepherd High School Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.
All of the planned activities (including craft shows, entertainment, children’s activities, museums, tractor pulls, classic car and tractor displays, parades, and amusement rides) add up to a most enjoyable and memorable weekend for people of all ages. We invite you to witness hometown hospitality at its best and join us in the “Sweetest Little Town Anywhere Around” on April 21 - 24, 2016.