Hartman Festival attracts 2,300

Approximately 2,300 fans of pancakes, homemade syrup and Hartmans Reserve enjoyed the annual flapjack fundraiser on March 1 and 2 at Hartman Reserve.

Whether behind a tall stack of pancakes or landing a sailing flapjack tossed hot off the griddle from across the room, attendees had a sweet time at the Maple Syrup Festival at Hartman Reserve on Saturday, March 1 and Sunday, March 2. 

The festival started 38 years ago with a small crowd and a pan griddle. Now each time the festival comes along, up to 2,300 people face Iowa’s bitter winter for a warm stack of pancakes drowned in Hartman Reserve’s own house-made maple syrup. 

Surrounded by maple trees, the festival is in the heart of where its syrup is created, also creating a learning experience for attendees. “There is a professor at UNI who brought his students out here, his archaeological students. They did a dig, and they found a bunch of cracked rock and temporary camps, and so they theorized that they were actually making maple syrup and maple sugar thousands of years ago out here,” Connie Svoboda, development coordinator for Hartman Reserve, said. 

On top of the maple trees, Hartman Reserve represents all the land the conservation board owns or rents. “When you come to Hartman you get a little bit of prairie, little bit of wetland, little bit of woodland,” Svodoba said. “What that does is get people acquainted with that and the different animals, so that they feel like they want to go explore the rest of the county,” she said. 

For many, it has become a tradition to come to the festival every year and enjoy the community, nature and the pancakes. “We’ve been coming for 13 years,” Cottonwood Canyon owner and sponsor Randolph Bryan said. “We love the community feel of Hartman Reserve and what it does for the community,” he said. 

Along with Cottonwood Canyon, there are so many other sponsors that bring the festival together. “Like, Bike Tech donating for the raffle, CrawDaddy donating for the raffle. Hansen’s Dairy donated all of the milk, the cream and the butter for the event. Oh, and then Friendship Village. We simply would not have people here if it wasn’t for their shuttles,” Svoboda said. “So that’s another way the community is involved.” 

Amongst the help from the sponsors, there are young ones making the festival a seamless event too. After families finish their plates stacked full with pancakes and sausages, a group of Boy Scouts sweeps in to clean the tables. Gaige Martin, a member of the Scouts group in Cedar Falls, volunteered at the festival to fill a requirement for his group. “My favorite part is helping other people,” he said.  

The festival brings a sweet feeling of community to Black Hawk County and celebrates the love of pancakes and each other. “It’s rich with community. There are so many different people. You see them maybe once a year at this event, and they all have smiles,” Svoboda said.

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Check out this week’s episode for another feature of on this event at Hartman.

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