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Student-led event a sweet success at Barrie's Georgian campus

It may have felt blustery and cold outside, but inside Georgian College felt — and smelled — like spring for the first ever Sweet Maple Festival.

It may have felt blustery and cold outside, but inside Georgian College felt — and smelled — like spring for the first ever Sweet Maple Festival.

The family-friendly festival celebrating all things maple was organized by students in the college’s event management program, and included a pancake breakfast, vendor market, Kids Zone, self-guided tours of the campus’s maple trees, kids’ scavenger hunt and an educational booth presented by the Wiidookdaading Indigenous Resource Centre highlighting traditional maple syrup practices and crafting demonstrations.

Rachel Sedore is one of the five students involved in planning the event, which is done as part of the program’s Capstone project.

The group have spent the better part of the year planning the charitable event, and were excited to see it finally come to fruition.

“We have planned the Sweet Maple Festival will go to the Barrie Food Bank and the Georgian Food Locker, an emergency food supplementation for Georgian students,” she said, adding at last count they had raised more than $2,000 they’d set as a goal.

“It’s really exciting. We have all been working so hard on it. I know we are all really proud to be able to support the Barrie Food Bank and Georgian Food Locker. Seeing it come to life, it turned into a much bigger event than we’d anticipated, so it’s been nice seeing how many organizations and businesses are wanting to participate,” she said.  

John Elliott, owner of Bradford-based Johnny’s Woodcraft, was one of the 40 vendors who participated in the event, telling BarrieToday he was impressed with the scope of the event.

“It’s a charitable event, and we’re always trying to support (those)... and get out into a new venue with new people,” he said. 

Rikki Darch and Londyn Odesse, 10, came out because they just love everything maple.

“We live for maple,” said Darch while the two decorated some cookies. “I didn’t know it was put on by students … that’s really good. It brings the community out to the school. I haven’t been here in years, so it’s been great.”

Barrie Fire and Emergency Services were also on hand to give tours of the firetruck and handing out some fun swag. Being part of community events such as this one is important for the department, acknowledged Capt. Chris Sauve.

“It’s always important for us to be out in the community and doing PR events. It’s a good interaction with the public. Everyone is always excited to get over to the firetruck,” he said.

Sedore and her classmates hope that the success of their event could in turn make it an annual event at the college.

“It’s been a hit. There’s been a lot of foot traffic coming through the vendor market and the breakfast was very busy. The weather didn’t stop the fun… everyone just moved inside,” she said. “It’s definitely provided us with all the skills to plan an event. We worked with a lot of different organizations and businesses, which was a really great experience. 

“We are just really thankful for the opportunity from the program. It’s just been such a great learning experience for us, being able to really dive into the event world.”