Maple Syrup Festivals
Maple Syrup Festivals are celebrated early in the spring, although the temperature can be still rather chilly. Festival guests should be prepared to experience these agriculture celebrations at the full scale, with gourmet food, demonstrations, craft booths, farming education, entertainment and family fun. It takes about 40 gallons of raw sap to make one gallon of syrup. With the years the process of maple production has changed. Instead of using buckets and hand carved taps the production process now relies on plastic lines and vacuum systems. But even today the festivals celebrate the traditional methods of maple syrup production and this sweet treat.
National Maple Syrup Festival: Medora, Indiana
At Burton’s Maplewood Farm, located just north of Medora, Indiana, you can try freshly made pancakes with maple syrup. In fact, it is the only national maple syrup festival in the country. In addition to savoring delicious food you can also see the demonstrations, purchase a variety of products from the participating vendors and take part in fun activities. Only here you can try syrup from all syrup-producing states in the country.
Indian Creek Nature Center: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
To see the steamy boiling of maple sap and learn how Native Americans and pioneers made maple syrup visit the sugarhouse at Indian Creek Nature Center. Guests will see the tree tapping process and will be served delicious pancake breakfast. There are also educational programs for groups with a focus on maple syrup production methods and the trees themselves.
Vermont Maple Open House Weekend: Throughout Vermont
Participating sugarhouses offer different activities but most of them show the visitors how maple syrup is produced as well as let sample the syrup and other products. We recommend visiting several sugarhouses as each delivers a truly unique experience.
Make Your Own in Minnesota State Parks
Some Minnesota state parks, including Fort Snelling, Sibley State Park, Whitewater State Park, Lake Maria, and Wild River State Park offer “make your own” programs. Some programs require the participants to attend the facility several times so they could get hands on experience in making their own syrup that they can take home. If you want to join the program make sure you register in advance.
Minnesota also boasts a number of great festivals worth visiting, including:
• Maple Syrup Festival at Saint John’s Arboretum in Collegeville;
• Pancake Brunch & Maple Syrup Tours at the University of Minnesota; Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen;
• Maple Syruping Day at Audubon Center of the North Woods;
• Maple Syrup Festival at Eastman Nature Center in Osseo.
Wisconsin offers the following maple syrup festivals:
• Maple Syrup Sunday at Ledge View Nature Center near Chilton;
• The Sweet, Sweet Spring Festival at the Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center with various demonstrations and presentations by the Driftless Folk School ;
• Maple Syrup Saturday at Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton;
• Pancake Breakfast and Open House not far from Viroqua;
• Maple Syrup Fest at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona;
• Maple Syrup Magic Open House at Riveredge Nature Center near Newburg;
• Maple Syrup Festival at MacKenzie Environmental Education Center near Poynette.
Leanne & Michael’s Sugarbush, Salem Indiana
Spend the day learning about traditional Indian methods of maple syrup production and syrup tasting at Leanne & Michael’s Sugarbush. The event is family friendly and guarantees lots of fun for the youngest participants as well. Kids are sure to enjoy scavenger hunt, mule-drawn wagon rides, and playing in the children’s activity area. The event boasts great food, maple syrup making displays and much more. Admission and parking are free!
Shepard Maple Syrup Festival, Shepard, Michigan
Feel the unique charm of this good old-fashioned festival held at a picturesque small town. It is a community event organized and run by the volunteers who are in charge of everything, from preparing food and candy to welcoming guests. The proceeds of the festival are donated to the local school that finances a summer recreation program for kids and some part of the money is spent on maintaining a community park.
Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, Vermontville, Michigan
This maple syrup festival in Michigan offers something for everyone. From mid-America rides, parades, a talent show, petting zoo, arts and crafts, arm wrestling, flea market, princess pageant to a variety of displays, games and free entertainment the scope of activities just can’t buy impress. And of course, there is a real abundance of maple syrup and other products made of it, such as crème and the famous maple syrup cotton candy.
Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Harman Reserve Nature Center invites visitors to savor a hearty pancake breakfast that includes the famous Chris Cakes (featured on Food Network). The whole community takes an active part in organizing the event and the proceeds are donated to support environmental education.
Byron Forest Preserve District, Byron, Illinois
Guests are served a pancake breakfast, and the event activities include maple tree tapping, hay rides, kid’s crafts and more. Admission is free but there is a small fee for breakfast.
If you are planning to say at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa consider purchasing their special Maple Syrup Festival package that includes nice perks and spa discounts. Guests will get Friday and Saturday lodging, Sunday pancake breakfast, family maple syrup surrey ride and a bottle of maple syrup.
Hebron Maple Festival, Hebron, Connecticut
Attend the event to see how maple cotton candy is made as well as savor great food, enjoy the crafts and participate in fun activities and games. The festival is held for two days and offers the opportunity to visit the operating sugar houses, see historical quilt exhibition and take part in letter boxing, sugar on snow, silent auction and scavenger hunt. (see Hebron Maple Festival site)
Pennsylvania Maple Festival, Meyersdale, Pennsylvania
Today the festival is a major event that draws more than 10,000 visitors annually. It features an Annual 5K Maple Walk and Run, pancake breakfast, historical pageant, dance, horse and tractor pulling contests, auto show, quilt show and a parade. Consider visiting the Maple Festival Park which is home to a historic homestead, antique doctor’s office, cobbler’s shop, country store and sugar camp. The Endless Mountains Maple Festival in Troy, Pennsylvania is a great local alternative to the larger event in Meyersdale. (see Pennsylvania Maple Festival site)
Highland Maple Festival, Monterey, Virginia
This is definitely one of the largest festivals in the Southeast, attracting more than 35,000 people over two weekends. The Highland Maple Festival features craft shows, the Festival Fling Dance, Festival Sugar Shakeup Dance and the Maple Queen Ball. Visitors can also take the Maple Sugar Tour and even see how maple syrup is being made at one of the working farms.
Maple Sugaring Festival, Lucas, Ohio
At Malabar Farm you can see demonstration and get free samples of maple syrup. During the festival guests can also take historic tours and horse-drawn rides as well as savor sweet maple treats. The summer bell house has been refurbished as a pioneer cabin. Visitors can experience the daily life of pioneers and try things the way they were done several centuries ago like washing clothes, making candles and cooking.
Festival Beauceron de l’Erable, Quebec, Canada
In Quebec the syrup season is called sugaring off and it is a great time for an unforgettable family vacations. With so many things to do for the whole family and the Festival Beauceron de l’Erable held near Saint-Georges Quebec becomes a real Mecca for tourists from the whole world.
Visiting a traditional sugar shack is a must. Here you will try traditional foods like pea soup, baked beans, maple-cured ham, “oreilles de crisse” (fried strips of salt pork), omelettes, and maple-sweetened desserts that typically include sugar pie, crepes and “grands-pères” (dumplings poached in maple syrup). After the dinner the visitors leave the shack to experience hot maple taffy on the snow. Adults are offered “caribou”, a national drink that contains wine and alcohol.
During the festival the locals celebrate their heritage and traditions that used to be their way of life in the past. The festival features a variety of local foods, crafts and agricultural products, as well as entertaining, maple product tastings and maple taffy on the snow.