Springtime in Michigan can mean a lot of things: birds chirping, flowers blooming, flowing rivers and waterfalls, and of course, maple syrup.
Michigan loves its maple syrup and its maple syrup festivals. While there are excellent maple syrup festivals all over the state, the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival is the granddaddy of them all.
Nestled south of Lansing and Grand Rapids, Vermontville’s celebration of maple syrup is Michigan’s original maple syrup festival and always takes place during the last full weekend in April.
We’ve put together the ultimate guide with everything you need to know about the festival, where to eat, and other great things you can do to have a great time in Vermontville.
About the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival
Vermontville is home to less than 800 people and covers just one square mile, but the festival has been a mainstay in this Eaton County village since 1940.
The idea for the festival, believe it or not, came from a discussion at a local barber shop in 1940 as a way to promote the village.
Those discussions set the foundation for a renowned festival that draws thousands of people each year.
As you drive through town, it’s not uncommon to see pails hanging from trees as local producers harvest sweet sap that they’ll later turn into real maple syrup.
On festival days, downtown Vermontville turns into a huge carnival; one that is family-friendly and exciting for visitors of all ages.
Festival activities include a petting zoo, a pancake derby, a big parade, maple syrup demonstrations, flea markets, and even the crowning of a Maple Syrup Queen.
Enjoying Maple Goodies at the Festival
There’s plenty to do at the festival, but one of the biggest reasons to go is to enjoy all the tasty maple syrup creations.
If you can’t get enough maple syrup, you’ll be in heaven because maple syrup shows up in just about everything here.
You’ll find syrup flowing over fluffy pancakes, bottled up for home use, and cooked into other treats like maple candy and the popular maple syrup cotton candy.
You don’t have to go far if you’re looking for syrupy goodness, because local syrup producers are located all over the village selling their wares.
A First-Person Perspective of the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival
In 2017, Awesome Mitten creator team member, Aaron Cruz, attended the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival and shared his experience with our readers…
Springtime is in full swing in The Mitten. I had an itch to take advantage of the warming temperatures and be outside. I looked to take in a festival while enjoying the intimacy of a small town.
With all that as my guide, I wound up in Mid-Michigan at the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival in the village of, you guessed it, Vermontville. I spent the better parts of two days strolling around town and the festival. I am very happy with my choice.
As the name suggests, you will find anything and everything having to do with maple.
In fact, local to Vermontville are numerous companies and families that make natural pure maple syrup. The Benedict Family Maple is the one I was most excited to visit. I spoke with the founder and a few other family members while taste-testing the sweet goodness.
It was fascinating to hear about how they have gone from their first product, chocolate maple ultimate candy, to a full array of syrups, creams, candies, treats, and so much more.
I secured a maple and sugar mix perfect for sprinkling on toast or using as a meat rub for barbecuing. The Benedict Family maple syrup was purchased as well (of course). Their sweet cream is to die for and I will use it in my morning coffees.
As I walked about, I drank maple root beer and purchased some maple cotton candy. I enjoyed an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with lots of maple syrup. I chose the American Legion/Nashville Lions Club breakfast.
The Band Boosters also put on a good one across the street at the local fire station. (Next time!)
For lunch and throughout the day, you will find several BBQ chicken fundraisers, some within the local churches.
Speaking of churches, being at the festival also gave me the opportunity to check out the town itself. I had never been to Vermontville before. Its history dates back to 1836.
I checked out the Congregational Church and learned about the first settlement in town. The Vermontville Historical Museum was a blast too. Now I know where the name comes from. The first settlers were from Vermont.
As you walk through town, look up at the buildings along Main Street. I even stopped at a historical gas station where it still lists gas at 69 cents a gallon. Look down while strolling and you might see some the tulips of springtime in full bloom.
For carnival lovers, all the usual kid rides, games, and food trucks were present. Burgers, pizza, elephant ears, and brats were all available. Kids can also enjoy bunnies, goats, pigs, and more at the petting zoo. There is a playground in the center of town.
While the kids are playing, check out other local maple producers and vendors in the same park. Walk the flea market across the street and head over to the expansive arts and crafts show in the Maplewood School. I secured some local fudge. I sense a sweet theme here!
Tip: For those that love yard sales, I saw at least a couple dozen sales, some pretty big, on the fifteen-mile route between I-69 and Vermontville. They come out in full force festival weekend. You will also find some within the immediacy of downtown.
There is definitely something for everyone at the Vermont Maple Syrup Festival.
I caught some of the children’s parade, the crowning of the Syrup Festival Queen, and musical performances on the main stage right along Main Street. The Glen Erin Pipe Band and Ezy Band are worth a look. They play the festival every year.
The weekend also brings the Grand Parade, 5K runs, egg tossing, an arm wrestling competition, a tractor pull, fireworks, and more.
I was lucky throughout as it was dark and ominous looking outside, but never rained. Wait, has maple syrup been mentioned? I also bought some from the Vermont Festival Corporation at Maple Manor. While I was there I checked out the machinery used to make the sweet, natural deliciousness.
It was amazing what the village of six hundred in Mid-Michigan puts on every year. I had a lot of “sweet” fun. The Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival is definitely an event I want my little boy and family to experience down the road.
Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival FAQs
When is the festival?
It’s traditionally held during the last full weekend in April
Is there an admission cost?
Admission is free
Where can I park?
Parking for the general public is first-come, first served, though there are specific locations for exhibitors, band boosters, for handicapped parking, etc.
When did the festival start?
It started in 1940 after a barbershop discussion between local syrup producers and has been going strong for more than 70 years.
Turn Your Visit into a Day Trip or Weekend Getaway
If you really want to make the most of your visit to the Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, extend your stay for a full day or weekend getaway! Pick and choose from the itinerary pieces below to build the perfect Michigan day trip or mini-vaca…
Restaurants in Vermontville for Breakfast
Everyone knows that the best way to start the day is with a hearty breakfast. And eating breakfast at the festival is a MUST. The Maple Valley Band Boosters and the American Legion combine to serve a delicious pancake breakfast with real maple syrup.
But if you’re going to spend the weekend exploring Vermontville and the syrup festival, you might want to try a few other local breakfast spots.
If you like having options for breakfast, JoLei’s Diner has them in spades! Choose from options like a personal breakfast pizza to chicken and waffles to skillets to a fluffy stack of pancakes.
JoLei’s also serves lunch and dinner, so you definitely won’t leave hungry.
Sugar Hut Cafe
If you’re looking for an affordable breakfast to start the day, Sugar Hut Cafe is a great spot. In fact, breakfast is served all day! Hungry customers can order an omelet or skillet for less than $10 and eggs, meat, and toast for less than $6.
Sugar Hut Cafe also serves lunch and dinner.
The Maple Leaf Inn
The Maple Leaf Inn has some excellent breakfast specials, including a breakfast sammy with your choice of meat, a hearty breakfast burrito, and brioche French toast.
Restaurants in Vermontville for Lunch and Dinner
Once you’ve taken your time to enjoy all the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells of the festival, here are some of best spots to go for dinner.
Rip’s Place Steakhouse and Bar
Rip’s Place has a great atmosphere and plenty of great food to fill hungry stomachs. Choose from Angus beef burgers, apps, soups, or even one of their food or drink weekly specials.
Rip’s also has karaoke nights and DJ trivia nights, so it’s a great spot to go if you like eateries with the atmosphere.
Good Time Pizza
Good Time Pizza is located just down the road from Vermontville in Nashville, but it’s locally owned and serves up tasty pies. The menu offers sandwiches, salads, and more, but the pizza is the star.
The pizza menu includes options like buffalo chicken, Mexican fiesta, and even deep-dish pizza.
And don’t forget to leave room for ice cream – one of the highlights of any trip to Good Times!
Country Kettle Cafe
Country Kettle Cafe in Nashville is only open for breakfast and dinner, but its the perfect spot if you want to grab a bite on the way to the festival. Treat yourself to a juicy 1/3 pound burger, a salad, or your favorite sandwich.
Sweet Spots Near Vermontville
There’s plenty of sweet treats available at the festival, but if you’re in the mood for ice cream, then a stop at MOO-ville Creamery in Nashville is a must.
MOO-ville offers you a chance to have arguably some of the freshest ice cream you’ll ever have. The family that owns MOO-ville produces quality dairy products including milk, ice cream, cheese, cream, and more.
Take a gander at the ice cream menu, which features more than three dozen flavors, including baconator, Eaton Barry (red raspberry ice cream with a strawberry, black raspberry swirl), and Mountain Moo (which tastes just like Mountain Dew!)
Treat yourself to a cone and take time to enjoy the other on-site activities. There’s a free seasonal petting zoo and self-guided tours that cost just $3 for adults.
Fun Things to Do In and Near Vermontville
Trust us, there’s lots of fun to be had at Vermont’s annual maple syrup extravaganza.
But Vermontville itself has a rich history and there’s plenty to explore since the village is less than 40 minutes away from Lansing and Battle Creek and less than an hour from Grand Rapids.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do while you’re in town for the festival.
Learn about Vermontville’s History
Vermontville may be small, but it has an impressive history. You can visit some of Vermontville’s historic buildings while you’re in town.
Start at the First Congregational Church, which was dedicated in 1864. The church was designed to resemble New England meetinghouses and this can be seen in the interior woodwork and framing.
Make sure to also visit the Vermontville Academy, which opened in the 1840s and now serves as the Vermontville Historical Museum.
The school dates back to 1836 when a group known as the Union Colony arrived from Vermont. The Vermontville Academical Association was formed, the building was constructed, and it opened for classes in the winter of 1844.
The minister of the Colony served as a teacher at the school and the academy was home to religious services until 1864.
The school was even home to the village’s first general store, which opened in 1853.
Visit Jumpin Jax Bounce Arena
If your kiddos are yearning to burn off some energy, before or after the festival, stop into Jumpin Jax in Lansing. This place is the largest indoor bounce arena in the city and features slides and tons of inflatables kids will love.
Take a Michigan State Capitol Tour
If you’re already in Lansing, make plans to visit Michigan’s State Capitol. The capitol building welcomes more than 100,000 people each year and it’s the perfect way to see the legislature in action, learn about Michigan’s history, and see some beautiful art.
Where to Stay Near Vermontville Michigan
Since Vermontville is a small village, you won’t find lodging in the village itself. Nonetheless, there are several bed and breakfasts in the surrounding area to stay at if you’re planning on celebrating for a few days.
The Legend Inn | Dimondale
The Legend Inn in Dimondale is less than a half hour from Vermontville and offers those who stay a visit to remember.
Legend Inn has cozy rooms decorated with Victorian flair, beautiful flower gardens, a specially prepared breakfast and so much more to make your stay comfortable.
Each room here offers a magnificent country view, antique furniture that belonged to the inn’s original owners, and, of course, plush, comfortable beds.
The English Inn | Eaton Rapids
The English Inn in Eaton Rapids is also close to Vermontville and will make visitors feel like they’ve stepped back in time.
Staying here, visitors will feel at peace as they get away from the hustle and bustle of the world. At English Inn, you can visit the in-house restaurant and pub, letting the weight of the world fall off your shoulders as you enjoy a first-rate meal.
Book a stay in rooms with names like the Windsor, the Brighton, and the Somerset, and allow yourself to be immersed in total comfort. The rooms offer great views, the decor is immaculate, and the beds are comfy.
Plan Your Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Trip Today
If you love Michigan maple syrup, you won’t want to miss this annual festival in mid-Michigan. Start planning your visit today!