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Friday, February 24, 2017

History of the Potter/Tioga Maple Producers Association

Written by Amanda Jones

The Potter/Tioga Maple Producers Association (PTMPA) was organized in 1963 by eighteen maple producers living within the two counties.

Members were able to pool their money and buy syrup containers and other supplies in bulk, and invested those savings along with a $5 annual membership fee and a small markup on jugs in advertising and other initiatives.

PTMPA followed the lead of organizations across the country, hosting two wildly successful Maple Tours in 1966 and 1972 and beginning an annual Maple Festival in Coudersport which has turned into an end-of-summer tradition attended by thousands of people from across Pennsylvania and beyond.

The first Maple Festival was held in 1967, featuring a booth with delicious, locally-produced pure maple products, other vending areas, and the crowning of Maple Sweethearts chosen from young ladies from Potter and Tioga Counties.

A $200 donation kicked off the first event, with labor, products and the remainder of necessary funds kicked in by PTMPA. It took three years for the event to turn a profit, but it has continued to grow ever since thanks to the dedication of members and community members.

The event is held on Courthouse Square in historic downtown Coudersport, and features a lengthy parade, carnival rides, community events, local business promotions, and a number of educational and shopping booths, as well.

Members of PTMPA have ranked in the top three spots in every category for the past twenty years at the PA Farm Show, and the event has become a major fundraiser for the group. In 2013, 550 gallons of maple syrup were sold by producers from across Pennsylvania to the estimated 585,000 people in attendance. That year saw a record number of visitors, with over 11,000 cars arriving on a single afternoon.

Many of the individual producers continue to expand their operations, adding new equipment and taps, upgrading technology, adding commercial kitchens, hay rides and more diverse products. Some facilities are adding restaurants to serve pancake breakfasts on the weekend and considering expansion into other maple-inspired fares.

Pennsylvania’s maple industry is poised for expansion, with the PA Wilds Region and other initiatives pushing heritage, agricultural and environmental tourism.

Currently, only about 0.17% of the potentially-tappable maple trees in Pennsylvania are utilized for syrup production, according to a study compiled by the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development.

Estimates show a huge potential of growth within the state. If just 0.53% of the Commonwealth’s trees were tapped, enough to cover demand in Pennsylvania without importing, the industry could generate $9,288,615, a great increase over the 2010 estimated revenue of $2.9 million.

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