Skip to Main

Annual Maple Syrup Festival kicks off Thursday in Shepherd

SHEPHERD — Shepherd in Isabella County is kicking off it’s largest event of the year, their annual Maple Syrup Festival.

Patti Sandel, vice president of the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Committee and this year’s parade Grand Marshall said the festival is steeped in tradition and involves the whole community.

“It started about 65 years ago with a small group of people who decided they wanted to do a community event. So they started with a pancake breakfast and invited the community to join in,” said Sandel.


Sandel said since then it’s taken on a life of its own with lots to do, including a parade, carnival pancake eating contest, and so much more.

She said during the event, Shepherd swells from 2,500 people as tens of thousands come out for the festivities.

“Maple Sirup is one of the first agricultural things that happened in the year. So that I think basically put us on the map because we’re one of the first festivals of the year as well,” said Sandel.

Sandel said it takes about 500 volunteers to make the event run smoothly.


“It’s a very important part of this community. We have helped fund quite a few different events,” said Sandel.

Many of those events focusing on the youth. Sandel said without their help, the festival wouldn’t be possible.

Craig Myers, a Shepherd Sugar Bush board member who volunteers to tap the trees in the community and make the syrup, it is a lot of work but it’s worth it for the kids.

“3 solid months of heavy volunteering leads to this weekend, and we can breathe a sigh of relief about 6:00 Sunday night when we can kind of get back to our normal routine,” said Myers.


Myers said despite the weather that led to lower maple syrup production, they still have enough for the festival.

“We didn’t have a long season. Everybody has been down with syrup production this year. We have plenty of syrup and we’ll keep selling it until we run out,” said Myers.

Local Trending News