Bathtub races, pancakes highlight final day of Geauga County Maple Festival

Apr. 30—Chardon's Main Street was closed to motor vehicles on the morning of April 30 as a different type of wheeled ride raced across the wet roadway.

Teams pushed and steered bathtubs up and down the street to try to win one of the competitions that marked the final day of the 2023 Geauga County Maple Festival. The event's 92nd edition also offered visitors to Chardon Square plenty to eat, see, ride and purchase.

William Powell was part of the Community Tub bathtub race team that was supported by realtor Deborah Burt of HomeSmart Real Estate Momentum in Chardon. Powell's team won the men's/coed and over-30 categories, as noted in the results that event organizers published to Facebook.

This was Powell's third year in the race, having finished in first place his first year before falling to third place last year.

"I had to do some hard recruiting this year," he said. "I've got a powerlifter in the gym right here, my buddy Mike (Miller), and a couple football players from the Chardon football squad, so we regained our number one status."

Powell noted that he prepared for the competition with "a lot of hard work at the gym."

"We've got a sled at the gym, so I've been pushing that pretty much all year," he added, noting that preparation also required squats, running and dedication.

Besides Powell and Miller, Andrew Pikus and Joseph Cyvas also helped push "The Judge." Powell's brother John drove the tub, which was named after his Pontiac GTO Judge.

"I'm just glad we beat Mr. (Brian) Titus, my buddy over there," William Powell said, referencing a competitor on a second-place team from the Chardon Smile Center.

Another team from the Chardon Smile Center won the women's category, beating competitors from the Chardon High School softball team in the final.

While some visitors came hoping for the thrill of victory, others came to enjoy the all-you-can-eat Pancakes in the Park, served with sausage and — fitting the event's theme — local maple syrup.

"I've been coming here since I was a very small child," said Stephanie Golding, adding that the pancake tent "is the first stop every time — has to be."

She and Max Christian came to the festival from Kent.

"This is only my second year, but she brought me and I fell in love with it," Christian said. "I love the small-town vibe. I love the tasty food. I don't know, it's a fun little tradition."

Sara Brougher volunteered at the tent, which served visitors from April 28-30. She noted that all of the proceeds from the pancake tent would go towards festival costs.

"We've actually had a very good year this year, even though it was kind of rainy and cold, we've made a nice little bit of money," she said, noting that the tent has operated for the past 21 years.

Brougher estimated that the tent volunteers had sold around 5,000 pancakes as of about 1 p.m. on April 30. They also served around 300 pounds of sausage and 30 gallons of maple syrup.

She noted that the sausage was donated by Heinen's. The syrup was purchased from Richards Maple Products, which has locations in Chardon and Kirtland, while additional syrup came from vendors that participated in the festival.

Other events scheduled for the event's final day included the Sap Run to start the morning, the invitational lumberjack finals, a maple syrup auction and a performance from the Burton Ballet. It was set to conclude with a parade and an introduction of the festival's queens and dignitaries.

"I was born and raised in Chardon," Brougher said. "I've always been a festival girl. I just love it and it needs to continue. It's a great time for everybody to come in, it's a tradition."