It was the year 2000 and Wilmington had just formed a committee called “Wilmington 2000.” Whitingham was invited to participate and Newt Brosius was asked for a committee of Whitingham residents. As a Lions member I joined, along with Steve Wrathall. We had to decide what to do.
About the same time I was talking to Roy Corse and he mentioned that people might be interested in seeing how maple syrup was made. With that in mind, I organized our committee and began the first maple syrup festival. Our budget was $250 from the Lions club. That year most of the activity was held in Jacksonville where many tourists enter the area.
The New York Times devoted a full page to the festival. The Lions Club was encouraged to change its annual pancake breakfast so it could be included in the festival. Steve did the same for the dinner so that it appeared more attractive to tourists.
All of the work above was from a group of nine people, in particular Steve Wrathall, who made his press mailing list available for New England.
I have mentioned Steve several times. Steve died several days ago, but in the context of attracting tourists to the area, he was past master. I continue to mourn his loss and that of the Garlic Festival, which is becoming a phenomenon around the country. In Connecticut, 100,000 people attended.
Steve saw the potential that this had in attracting tourists. He brought to Wilmington a winner. I want the community to appreciate what Steve did. Also, congratulations on keeping the Maple Festival alive. Its 10th anniversary is next year.