Maple Syrup Festival Celebrates a Sweet Local Treat
by Laura Kocum
on Friday, March 23rd, 2018 at 10:20am.
Spring means blossoms, green grass, buds on the trees, and the perfect time to tap a maple tree. In Wisconsin, maple syrup production begins in March. Trees are tapped while temperatures are still below freezing at night, but are warmer during the day. The United States is the only country in the world producing commercial maple syrup. Wisconsin plays a key part in this industry, producing roughly 250,000 gallons of maple syrup each year, according to the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association.
This weekend, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona will celebrate Wisconsin's maple syrup industry. The 13th annual Maple Syrup Festival is planned for Sunday afternoon from 1-4 p.m. Visitors will enjoy the wide range of indoor and outdoor activities designed to celebrate nature and the natural goodness of maple syrup. "We want people to come and explore the center, to connect with the history of maple syrup production, and to connect to the land," says Cara Erickson, Marketing and Communications Manager at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. "This is the first year that we're offering it all at no charge, and we want the public to come and enjoy all that we have to offer." Stations will be set up throughout the grounds, and visitors can enjoy them at their own pace. At one station, a real "tapper" will be on hand to demonstrate how the sap is tapped from maple trees, and to explain the process of turning that sap into syrup. Another will provide cooking demonstrations with early pioneer settlers, and the opportunity to purchase treats made with pure maple syrup. Additional areas will teach about trees, maple syrup history and more. Advance registration is encouraged, but not required.
In addition to the maple syrup fun, the regular attractions, including nature trails and the Climate Science Center will be open. Stop by the Children's Shack to see a child-sized replica of Aldo Leopold's retreat. Leopold's original shack was an abandoned chicken coop near the Wisconsin River which he later renovated. The Leopold family enjoyed it, and used the area around it to experiment with land restoration. His love for the land is reflected in his writing, and throughout the Aldo Leopold Nature Center grounds.
Maple syrup fits perfectly into Leopold's vision of land conservation. The same trees can be tapped year after year, without damaging their growth. And the end result is a delicious, all-natural treat that can be enjoyed year-round!