Maple Syrup Festival celebrates annual tradition of tapping trees

March 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

It happens for only a few short weeks each spring.

The syrup in sugar maple trees starts to flow and when it does, that is the only opportunity to tap the trees to make maple syrup.

The Island Lake Conservation Area celebrates the annual natural event by hosting a Maple Syrup Festival and welcoming visitors to see how it is made, how it tastes, and go on a tour of the facilities.

While maple syrup is produced in the sugar shack, there are other activities going on as well.

Pancakes are served and of course they are topped with maple syrup.

“We’ve been hosting maple syrup festivals for 24 years here at Island Lake,” explained Island Lake Conservation Area superintendent Yasmine Slater. “Under the Sugar Bush Festival we’ve been doing it for four years.”

The Sugar Bush Festival features several festivals at conservation areas around the region and visitors can purchase tickets and attend all of them.

“You can buy a ticket online to come to our festival and you can come as many times as you want here, and at the other locations as well,” Ms. Slater said. “There are also festivals at Terra Cotta, Bruce’s Mill, and the Kortright Centre. What everybody comes for is the Sugar Bush tour. It’s about a 45-minute tour with comedy skits going on, some history, and we have some talk about climate change and the future of maple syrup. We have the sugar shack that is operating now and of course people like the taffy and the pancake house. In the Sugar Shack they show how the evaporator works and how you process maple syrup in modern times and a little history of much it takes to make one litre of maple syrup.”

Other demonstrations feature syrup being boiled over an open fire the way it used to be done in pioneer days.

If you want to try the tour with a twist, Maple Syrup by Lamplight will take place on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6. This a 19-plus only event, as alcohol will be served.

“It’s an hour and a half tour,” Ms. Slater explained. “You get an hour tour of the sugar bush by lamplight and then a half hour to try snacks and local food. There’s an eight o’clock and nine o’clock tour each night.

The Island Lake festival took place last Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, and will be on again this weekend, on Saturday, March 23.

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