Spend a Sugary Sunday at the Maple Syrup Festival

20 Feb
February 20, 2013

When it comes to breakfast, what’s your favorite part? Is it the slightly runny egg yolks? Salty bites of bacon? Light and fluffy biscuits?

Or is it taking a big bottle of maple syrup and pouring it all over everything, drenching your entire meal in sugary goodness?

If it’s that last part, then read on, because you are in for a sweet treat.

Everyone typically imagines maple syrup being bottled up north, coming from either Canada or Vermont. You wouldn’t be wrong. Quebec Province accounts for almost 75% of the world output, while Vermont produces almost six percent. So the syrup on the table at your breakfast nook is most likely from there. But those two places aren’t the only locations where maple trees thrive. You can also find the trees scattered about Washington, D.C., and each and every one of those produces the sticky sap that can be rendered down into maple syrup.

This Sunday, February 24th, you can see for yourself.

Each year, the Brookside Nature Center, in Wheaton, MD, hosts its Maple Syrup Festival, where visitors can learn everything they could ever want to know about nature’s original sweetener.

The Nature Center is a Maryland mainstay and last year celebrated its 50th anniversary. It is located just ten minutes north of the Beltway, right outside of Silver Spring, part of the 600-acre Wheaton Regional Park. The massive space contains two different types of maple trees throughout. Red maples, which are the variety you see around Washington, as well as sugar maples. Sugar maples prefer colder climates, and those are the trees that are typically associated with making maple syrup. Both, however, produce sap that can be used.

Almost as old as the park itself, the Maple Syrup Festival has been around since the 1970s. It is now one of the Center’s most popular events, with over 1,500 visitors coming to the park for last year’s celebration.

Just what does it entail?

Attendees arrive to an orientation film, which teaches guests about both the history of maple syrup and the process to make it. It takes almost eight hours of constant boiling for any extracted maple sap to be rendered down to syrup.

Afterward, visitors can walk around the park, where several maple trees are tapped to collect sap. The are literally tapped. The park bores holes into each tree and inserts a spigot. It looks no different than the one on the outside your house which you attach your garden hose to. Slowly, sap trickles out, and eventually when enough is colelcted, it will be put over heat.

At the festival, you won’t need to wait a full eight hours to taste Maryland maple syrup. Samples from last year’s product will be on hand for guests to try. There will also be pancakes provided, because what would a maple syrup celebration be without pancakes? Alongside the syrup, arts and crafts projects as well as games,will be available to help entertain children.

Tickets for the Maple Syrup Festival are inexpensive, just $5 a person for the entire event. The festival runs from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and guests can arrive anytime they’d please.

Or slowly trickle in, if you’d prefer, which is exactly how the syrup you’ll be watching on Sunday will be come out.

-David

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