What Highland Means to Our Maple Queen
Highland County, Virginia, Maple Festival, Maple Queen, pageant

Highland County’s 2020 Maple Queen Erin Brendel (Photo Credit: Doug Puffenbarger)

When someone asks me what Highland County means to me, it is not a difficult question to answer. I simply think of all the memories from my life here, and the response is easy: “Everything.” 

Highland means absolutely everything to me. From the small, caring community to the breathtaking mountain views – it is such a unique lifestyle here. It can’t be compared to anywhere else. I love the beautiful views, the close community, and, of course, the Maple syrup!

I have lived in Highland my entire life, and one thing I love about it is the stunning view I experience every single morning and night. 

First thing in the morning, I go outside and feel the cold dew on the grass. I can hear the birds chirping, each singing their own song. I can sometimes see fog in the distance, and behind the fog is the beautiful Allegheny Mountains. It is such a breathtaking view that will never get old, and I am able to see it almost every morning. 

In the evening, sometimes the sky is vibrant pink and purple or red and orange. It is always so enchanting to see the gorgeous sunset no matter what the color is. Also, quite often, you can hear an owl or see a bat flying through the air, and you can see the billions and billions of stars and a glowing moon in the night sky.

Photo Credit: Erin Brendel

I love seeing those views every morning and evening, and it makes me feel so blessed to live in this wonderful county. 

Another thing I love about Highland is the close community. The whole town feels like a family, and we’re all able to work together to make this area a better place. It’s a place where everyone knows everyone, and we all support each other through the good times and the bad times. 

This community is so strong that it is able to support the ones in need and is able to build others up when they get knocked down. Overall, we are all surrounded by love and respect for each other, and I could not be more proud to be a part of such an amazing community.

Last but not least, I love maple syrup, of course! Living in Highland County, I have been able to experience how maple syrup is made, and I have been able to truly appreciate the process and the time it takes. It’s an undeniable art to make good maple syrup, and many of the people around Highland have this skill! Most of all, I love maple syrup because it is naturally-made in Highland County, and when buying Maple syrup from local sugar camps, it helps support the community. Maple syrup is a part of Highland’s heritage and will never be forgotten as long as future generations continue to learn and teach the history of this special place.

Highland County, Maple Festival, Maple Queen, Virginia, sugar camp, maple, syrup, tour, trip, travel, tourism

Queen Erin and Princess Carly in the Mist of Maple Syrup Production. (Photo Courtesy: Erin Brendel)

Highland is amazing, and I am so honored to represent this unique community as the 2020 Highland County Maple Queen. I have learned so much from living in this town and those lessons will never be forgotten. 

I hope future generations of this community continue to learn from the elders of Highland and continue the traditions and ways of our past.  Highland will always hold a special place in my heart no matter where I go. I will always remember the special memories and adventures I experienced during my time here in Highland. It will always be my home. 




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