Highland County Maple Festival

 

The Highland County Maple Festival takes place every year on the 2nd and 3rd weekends in March in Highland County, Virginia. Often referred to as "Little Switzerland", Highland County is a charming and picturesque corner of the world that is a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The beautiful mountain views, excellent food, and good old-fashioned family fun make the Maple Festival a "must-go" event for many year after year.

Events at the Maple Festival are varied and family friendly. Take a tour of one of several craftshows, hosted at the Highland County High School and in the nearby town of McDowell . Bluegrass music, clogging, and other forms of entertainment take place throughout the festival. The town of Monterey boasts several shops selling unique arts and crafts. Vendors selling everything from scarves to baked goods to homemade barbecue sauce line the streets.

Food is a central part of the Maple Festival and while the options seem limitless, you can bet that maple syrup is a key ingredient in many of the festival's delicacies. Make sure to stop in for a buckwheat pancake breakfast, available at the high school, the Highland Inn, or in the neighboring towns of Bolar or McDowell. If pancakes aren't your style, the infamous Maple donuts made and sold by the Ruritans can't be beat. Maple barbecue chicken, maple funnel cakes, lamb burgers, and homemade fresh pork rinds are among some of the other offerings. Make sure to get there early because the lines can get long!

Touring a local sugar tree operation is a wonderful experience for the entire family and is a must-do on your visit to Highland County. Maps are available through the chamber of commerce, or you can take your chances and look for arrows pointing you to "Maple Tours" around the area. The Sugar Tree store in McDowell contains its own syrup producing operation, as well as a charming country store filled with local jellies, baked goods, maple sugar candy, and of course, syrup.

The town of Monterrey offers several lodging options, but spots fill up quickly, so you may choose to take a short drive to nearby historic Staunton and stay at one of the many lovely bed and breakfasts or the newly renovated Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

Directions:

FROM THE NORTH: Travel south on I-81 to exits #225 (bypasses Staunton) or #222 (Staunton exit). Travel west on US 250 to McDowell (35 miles) and/or Monterey (45 miles). US 250 is an excellent road, however, it does wind across several mountains. Allow approximately 50 minutes driving time to McDowell and a little over 1 hour from the junction with I-81.

FROM THE EAST: Follow I-64 west to I-81. Travel north on I-81 to the first exit (#222 at Staunton) and follow the above directions west on US 250. Allow approximately 50 minutes driving time to McDowell and a little over 1 hour from the junction with I-81.

FROM THE SOUTH: Travel north on I-81 to exit #222 (Staunton exit) and follow the above directions or take exit #150 (north of Roanoke) and follow US 220 north into Monterey (125 miles). Allow approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes driving time from exit #150.

FROM THE WEST: Travel east on US 250 or east on I-64 to exit #181 and north on WV 42 to Frost to WV 84 to Monterey. Allow approximately 1 hour driving time from Elkins or 2 hours from White Sulphur Springs.

(Directions courtesy of Highland County Chamber of Commerce)

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