It was Emily Myers’ third day working at the Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center, her first day working without another employee and her busiest day by far.
In addition to the lodge guests, couples and families filled the lodge for its 52nd annual Maple Syrup Festival. Emily had met people who had driven all the way from Cincinnati.
During the week, Emily is a first-year student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., studying speech, hearing and language sciences. But every weekend, she makes the two-and-a-half-hour drive from campus to her home just outside of College Corner, Ohio, to work at the lodge on Saturdays.
She sat by herself at a table near the entrance of the lodge.
An assortment of maple-related goodies were spread out on the table in front of her. A gallon-sized bottle of maple syrup for $69. A pint-sized bottle for the newer maple syrup connoisseurs for $17. A small bag of maple drop candies for $4. Maple dog bones for $1.25.
A couple walked up to the table.
“Hey guys!” Emily said. She greeted everyone this way — her chipper tone and wide grin had been going strong since the festival started at 8 a.m.
They picked up the various items on the table to get a closer look.
“How much is this?” the man asked, holding up a bottle of maple barbecue sauce.
“Seven dollars,” Emily answered.
“What’s this?” the woman asked, examining a bottle of maple balsamic dressing.
“I think you can put it on salads,” Emily offered. They looked at each other in confusion, skeptical about the prospect of a maple-flavored salad dressing.
“I’m not so sure about that,” the woman said.
“Well how much is it?” the man asked.
“That’ll be seven dollars too,” Emily answered, referencing her inventory sheet.
The couple gave each other a look — a mutual agreement that it wasn’t worth it.
“You should have samples or something,” the man said.
The woman scanned the table, and picked up a glass maple-leaf-shaped bottle of syrup.
“This would make a great gift!” she gushed.
“Oh yeah, that’s nice,” her husband agreed. “How much are those? Seven dollars too?”
“No, those are actually 20 dollars,” she said.
The couple decided on a bottle of the maple barbecue sauce. Emily made a tally mark on her inventory sheet.
“Would you like a bag for that?” Emily asked.
“Sure, anything I can get for free,” the man said with a chuckle.
“Have a good day, you guys!” she said as they walked off.
Turns out the man and woman weren’t the only people unsure about the maple salad dressing. Only two people had ventured to buy a bottle in the four hours the festival had been going on.
“I’m more of a ranch person myself,” Emily admitted with a shrug.