Patti’s April 9 “Inside New Gloucester” column

Leslee Clark, co-owner of Royal River Orchards, relaxes after hosting a busy Maine Maple Weekend event. The panorama atop Peacock Hill provides sweeping views of fields, woods, rows of apples, as well as Mount Washington in the distance. Patti Mikkelsen/For Lakes Region Weekly

Successful Maine Maple Weekend

Royal River Orchards was the place to be to celebrate Maine Maple Weekend from March 27-28. Co-owners David and Leslee Clark reported a brisk business for their pancake breakfasts, as well as farm sales of their newly tapped maple products and apple-related items made from the fruit in their orchards. The assortment of maple-glazed cookies and those in the shape of bunnies in homage to Easter sold out in one hour.

Leslee said she heard from visitors that they were glad COVID regulations were loosened so they could support local agriculture while being out with their families.

“We didn’t know what to expect for our first year, and it was managed really well,” Leslee said. “Everyone respected social distancing.”

Royal River Orchards has been family-owned since 1963. David said his family has tried a number of agricultural enterprises over the years. Not all were economically viable, so they worked outside the farm to put it back together. He and his wife made a commitment to maintain that stewardship. They’re trying to create a low-impact economic agricultural environment going forward.

“We’re not on the map,” David said. “We’re kinda doing our thing quietly. There’s more to it than the monetary value. New Gloucester is a great place. To be a steward of part of that, it’s an honor.”

The Clarks host tented outdoor farm weddings in their fields atop Peacock Hill showcasing 360-degree views, including distant glimpses of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. They offer pick-your-own apples from mid-August to November.

For Patti Mikkelsen’s complete column in the Lakes Region Weekly, go to