By Amy Bayer
Did you know there’s a maple syrup season in Wisconsin? That indecisive time when it’s no longer winter but not quite spring, has been described as “the sweet good-bye of winter.” It’s the season when maple trees, known as the sugar bush, let their sap start to run, and it’s the perfect time for the folks in Wisconsin to celebrate the harvest of that sweet, delectable nectar.
It may take 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, but it is certainly worth the effort. We honor the effort with festivals around the state that demonstrate tapping trees, highlight nature hikes and provide music and games. Not only that, what’s maple syrup without pancakes? Many of the festivals feature a delicious pancake breakfast including the best of real Wisconsin-made maple syrup.
Start your weekend off right at the Sugarin’ Off Pancake Breakfast held every Sunday in March at the River Bend Nature Center. Following a delicious breakfast, topped with 100% Wisconsin maple syrup, naturalist volunteers will lead you through the woods to learn the process of maple sap collection and syrup production. It’s fun for the whole family at this local tradition of discovery!
Head to the Driftless Region to visit the headquarters for Kickapoo Gold, certified organic maple syrup. Every year they host an Open House and Pancake Breakfast on two different Sundays in March; check their website for dates and times. Following an organic pancake breakfast, you’ll get a tour of the sugar house where the syrup is processed, as well as a horse-drawn wagon tour of the sugar bush. It’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate the arrival of spring, enjoy a local, organic breakfast and explore the great outdoors on a wagon ride.
Visit the Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, just west of Port Washington, for the annual Maple Sugarin’ Open House. This annual event includes a trip to the sugar bush and a tutorial on how sap is transformed into syrup. This event also provides an opportunity to participate in several games, activities and arts and crafts, like learning how to tap a tree, making a necklace using sumac and listening to live music. This event would not be complete without a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup.
Maple Sugar Days is where all the family fun is at in late March. Check out this weekend adventure at the Wehr Nature Center. Your family will hike with a naturalist guide to the sugar bush and taste fresh sap as it drips from the trees. Then you’ll get to visit an old-fashioned sugarin’ camp to hear stories of how the pioneers produced maple syrup and sugar. Along the way there are hands-on activities for the whole family, like using Native American methods of boiling sap without the use of modern tools. Step back in time for this family-fun weekend.
Join the Taylor County Lions and Lioness for their annual Maple Festival, celebrating all things about our Wisconsin state tree. This festival includes maple syrup production, raffles and door prizes, maple-flavored food, crafts, green space beautification demonstrations, cooking with syrup contests and, of course, it all begins with a pancake breakfast complete with maple sausage from Jones Dairy Farm. Join the fun this April at the Taylor County Fairgrounds!
Looking for additional delicious festivals? Check out more events to add to your calendar or tell us about your favorite happenings in a comment below.