April 1, 2011
Indiana hosts the nation’s only National Maple Syrup Festival

Did you know Medora, Ind. hosts the nation’s only National Maple Syrup Festival? Nestled in the hills of southern Indiana, Burton’s Maplewood Farm hosts vendors, demonstrations, camps, tours and music all in celebration of maple syrup harvesting season. The event is held every year during the first two weekends of March.

Visitors to the festival can participate in activities ranging from horse drawn wagon rides to devouring a hearty stack of pancakes and 100% pure maple syrup. Burton’s Maplewood Farm makes it possible to experience the entire operation from collecting the sap to evaporating and processing the syrup. Although maple syrup is the star of the show, there are several other trades to learn while at the festival, including butter churning, soap and candle making, wool spinning, Dutch oven cooking, blacksmithing and wood burning.

There are several opportunities in Indiana to learn more about maple sugaring and the varying steps in the process. During the month of March, the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College hosts about 1100 elementary students and their parents from the Fort Wayne area for a hands-on maple sugaring experience at the Yoder Sugar Bush. The teaching stations for the program include the history of syrup making, tree tapping demonstrations, sap gathering, the effects of weather on sap flow and maple syrup making. Although this year’s sugaring season is nearing its end, you can learn more by joining the Indiana Maple Syrup Association on May 21 for canning day at Harris Sugar Bush in Greencastle, Ind. The association needs help filling containers, attaching labels, racking jugs for cooling and packing the cases.

Tree tapping can be conquered by both urban and rural dwellers alike. Making maple syrup is a process that requires patience and dedication. According to TapMyTrees.com, it takes 40 parts maple sap to make 1 part maple syrup (10 gallons sap = 1 quart syrup). Start a conversation with your maple syrup source to learn more about this precious natural sweetener and how you might start getting your hands sticky.

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