Top Scoring Tie-Breaker Decides 2019 Best Maple Producer Award
April 25, 2019 by Rose Nemunaitis

Roger Roseum aspired for years to achieve one sweet goal.

Roger Roseum aspired for years to achieve one sweet goal.

The veteran maple producer’s golden moment came last Saturday.

“This has been my goal for 36 years,” said Roseum, of Chester Township, garnering the Grade A Golden award, naming him the best maple syrup producer this year.

Roseum produces syrup along with his brother and neighbor, Marcus.

“I’m honored to be a part of a select group of maple producers here in Geauga County who have also attained this auspicious award,” he said during the 2019 annual Maple Syrup Hall of Fame Brunch at Mary Yoder’s Amish Kitchen in Middlefield April 20.

Just before the Geauga County Maple Festival kicks off its 90th year April 25, the Roseums joined David and Pam Patterson, who were being inducted into this year’s prestigious Maple Syrup Hall of Fame.

“We are pleased that maple syrup runs in the veins of the sixth generation of Pattersons,” said David’s mom, Nancy Patterson. “We are delighted to watch as the tradition is passed on to their children.”

The Maple Syrup Hall of Fame began in 1984 to recognize those persons who have, through the years, contributed significantly to the maple syrup industry in Geauga County.

“Many families have made syrup for several generations while newer hobby producers have increasingly joined in this spring awakening venture as a hobby with a smaller number of taps,” said Nancy, whose husband helped start the hall of fame. “Thus, Geauga County’s reputation as a leader in the production of syrup continues.”

New changes to judging this year included color grade classes for the Hobby and Out of County exhibitors and an infused maple syrup and maple value added class.

“There are many people who share the passion of making maple syrup and candy,” said master of ceremonies and maple contest judge Bob Rogish. “This event honors those who contribute above and beyond to promote the maple festival, and maple sugaring in Geauga County.”

This year’s contest was exceedingly close, ending up with a tie for first place in the Producers Golden Delicate Class between Roseum and JR Blanchard, last year’s top winner.

Both samples scored 100. Judges broke the tie by choosing the sample that was closest to 66.7 brix, marking the point of total saturation of sugar in a water solution, therefore the ideal density — which went to Roseum, giving Blanchard an honorable second-place win.

Veteran judge and Maple Syrup Hall of Famer James Miller said seeing the highest scoring tie like that was unusual.

“Golden was golden and very deserving,” Miller added.

“A lot of time and effort goes into every gallon of maple syrup,” Rogish added. “As judges of the syrup and candy contest, we treat every entry as if it could be our own. We know how much work goes into it and don’t take the task of choosing the best syrups lightly.”

The judging committee said it was the biggest year yet, with 79 entrants and 135 entries.

Committee members said every year, they strive to make the contest as accurate and fair as possible by triple checking density scores and spending a lot of time with color and clarity.

But the most time is spent on flavor, as judges all agree it is what keeps people coming back for more.

“We use three judges to make sure we have as varied of tastes as possible,” Rogish said. “They sample, discuss, sample again and again. In the end, we are confident we have given every sample every consideration.”

The same care Roseum, an electrical engineer, said he applied to his 19 selections of maple syrup before deciding on the best one to enter.

Roseum’s wife, Linda, called her husband, who built his own evaporator, a perfectionist.

“My great-grandfather, Oscar Battles, produced maple syrup on our property years ago and tapped some of the same trees that I tap today,” Roseum said.

Roseum, his grandfather, David Roseum, father, Lawrence Roseum, and brother, Marcus, have carried on the sugaring tradition on the same property.

“My son, Daniel, and his son, Jordan, and daughter, Juliana, have also started producing maple syrup in Murrysville, Pa., as of last year and are continuing in the family sugaring tradition,” Roseum said.

Nancy said the annual brunch brings together producers of all sizes and gives them an opportunity to celebrate the end of the season and collaborate on the results as well as share new ideas.

Madison High School took first place for the Hobby Division for Golden Class.

MHS Ecology Teacher Tim Piva said many students, including himself, have been attending the Geauga County Maple Festival for years with their families.

“We are honored to be part of it and the award will help expand our program and bring the joys of sugaring to others in the Madison community as well as Lake County,” Piva said.

The top seven syrups in each of the classes — Golden Delicate, Amber Rich and Dark Robust — will be auctioned off Sunday at the festival at 12:30 p.m.

“Proceeds go to the festival board to help offset the costs associated with putting on one of the sweetest festivals around,” Rogish said.