Celebrate the Season

There’s always something to celebrate in Johnny Appleseed Country.

From the running of the maple sap into tubes and buckets — the harbinger of luscious, gooey maple syrup — to the pink and white blossoms of apple trees that hint at bountiful summer and fall harvests, Mother Nature constantly gives the region something to crow about!

And local residents, organizations and farmers are always happy to throw a down-home country party.

After a long, cold, snowy winter, maple sugaring season is a welcome delight as clouds of sweet steam rise from the evaporating vats at local sugarhouses. You can learn about the process — and enjoy that very special treat — at the maple fests at Hardwick Winery in Hardwick and Hollis Hills Farm in Fitchburg from late February through March. Just thinking of those stacks of pancakes, dripping in syrup is enough to get mouths watering and tastebuds tingling. But don’t forget: Maple season is short, and totally dictated by Mother Nature.  Enjoy it while you can!

Pink and White Petals

The arrival of warm spring weather brings out the apple blossoms — and their beauty is well worth celebrating.

Sholan Farms, set high atop a hill overlooking Leominster, parties in style. The Friends of Sholan Farms organizes this  annual rite of spring and welcomes visitors to enjoy the beauty of the orchard (and the view!).  The festival on May 19 is an event the whole family can enjoy with children’s activities, crafters, music, food, and even a butterfly release!

Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg celebrates apple blossom season with a weekend of festivities, highlighted by a “Taste of Lanni,”  on May 19 and 20.  Celebrations at local farms continue throughout the spring and summer, as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and, of course, apples, ripen and are waiting to be picked. You won’t want to miss the Strawberry Festival at Hollis Hills Farm in  Fitchburg. Can’t you just taste the sweet goodness now?

As the summer moves toward fall, apple and harvest festivals abound — so keep your eye on the calendar in this Guide, and on the Appleseed website and facebook page for up-to-the-minute details.

More to Come

But that’s just the beginning!

The highlight of summer for many families is the Fourth of July, with picnics, parades and fireworks.

Fitchburg’s big bash lasts for days, encompassing a parade, block party, and the famous rubber ducky race, all centered on the city’s downtown area.

Pepperell bills its celebration as a “small town, big bang” event that includes a parade, festival and —you guessed it! — fireworks.

Want something a little more subdued? Head to Templeton, where the iconic white-steepled church hosts a reading of the Declaration of Independence at noon, followed by an old-fashioned ice cream social on the town common.

All in Good Taste

And did we mention food? These festivals and others throughout the season turn the spotlight on tasty-tempting treats, from maple candy to strawberry shortcake and traditional hot dogs and burgers.

But how about some mac ‘n cheese? Yes, local residents have developed an entire festival focused on that down-homey family favorite. Oh, but it’s not just any old mac  ‘n cheese. Sure, you can dig into a bowl of creamy goodness — but you can also chow down on a slice of mac ‘n cheese pizza, made fresh by local pizza shops. Bring your appetite to the Templeton Town Common on July 14 … and don’t forget your cape! The festival celebrates “super heroes,” and kids (of all ages) are invited to dress for the occasion.

Lift a Glass

All that celebrating — and eating — is bound to make you thirsty, and Johnny Appleseed Country is ready to serve the over-21 crowd in style. Craft beers abound here, as do festivals designed to enjoy them.

Ready for some great tastes? Try these:

The Nashua River Brewers Fest on June 30 in Fitchburg; The Johnny Appleseed Craft Beer Fest in downtown Leominster on August 4; and the Mountain Music and Craft Beer Party at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area on Labor Day weekend.

Celebration season is here! Enjoy!