Maple Syrup Festival returns to Hueston Woods in March
We are extremely excited for this upcoming event! Make sure to call or check out lodging accommodations prior to the festival!
By Amanda Dalton
One of the first signs of spring is the Maple Syrup Festival held at Hueston Woods State Park.
The annual festival showcases the age-old tradition of making maple syrup and highlights many other attractions at Hueston Woods. Each year the event attracts thousands of visitors, said Naturalist Amanda Dalton.
The festival will be held over two weekends — March 1-2 and 8-9. A pancake breakfast will be served at the Hueston Woods Lodge from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Coast is $6 for adults and $5 for children 10 and younger. From noon to 4 p.m. each day there will also be free maple syrup tours.
“We invite you to join us at the Pioneer Farm for a hayride to our ‘Big Woods,’ a designated State Nature Preserve,” Dalton said. “You’ll then hike with a naturalist about a half mile through the Sugar Bush Trail where you will learn about the history of maple syrup production, watch how trees are tapped and how the sap is collected.”
The Nature Preserve consists of 200 wooded acres in a virgin beech-maple forest.
“Making maple syrup the traditional way is labor intensive, but much of the work is done prior to visitors arriving,” Dalton explained. “Naturalists and park staff select over 200 sugar maple trees that meet the criteria for tapping,” she said. “A small hole is drilled into the tree (which doesn’t hurt it), then a spigot called a ‘spile’ is inserted and a bucket hung below to catch the sap.
“Sap is the clear liquid that is stored in the tree during winter. The excess is collected in the buckets then transported to a cistern which feeds into the park’s warm, steamy Sugar Shack that awaits at the trail’s end. There you’ll get to see sap being boiled down and the sweet smelling steam billow from the Shack that occupies the same site the Huestons used in the early 1900s.”
Visitors will also be offered a taste of pure maple syrup.
“Because the sap is only about 2 percent sugar, it takes around 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup,” Dalton said.
The tour lasts about one hour and visitors will have the opportunity to purchase maple syrup before and after the tour. Food and beverages will also be on sale throughout the day. There also are a lot of other things happening as the park transitions to warmer days.
“While you’re visiting, be sure to check out Timber, the Nature Center’s young cougar, as well as several species of birds of prey and reptiles on display,” Dalton said.
The Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information, contact a park naturalist at 513-524-4250.