It’s syrup season: 9 sweet maple syrup events happening in and around Western PA
Photo above of a lip-smacking taste of fresh maple syrup courtesy of Allegheny County Parks.
Did you ever consider, while pouring maple syrup over a buttery stack of pancakes, that it takes about 10 gallons of sap to produce just one quart of pure maple syrup? Families in Western Pa. can learn all about the science of maple sugaring, sample maple treats and see the sap being boiled down into that sweet, sweet syrup. Lots of cool maple syrup events are happening in and around Pittsburgh this time of year — and nearly all of them are free.
Some activities will fill their spaces early, so be sure to register in advance to prevent disappointment. Also, dress for the weather. And be sure to pack your masks and visit each organization’s website and/or social media to stay updated about safety protocols and guidelines.
Here are 9 great maple syrup events on tap throughout our region:
1. Feb 11: Get Started with Backyard Maple Sugaring, Jennings Environmental Education Center
Curious about tapping your backyard trees? Enquiring minds can head to Jennings Environmental Education Center on Feb. 12 to learn how to get started. The session will cover finding appropriate trees, tapping, collecting and evaporating maple sap. Observation and hands-on instruction on the sugar processing steps will take place outdoors. Some equipment will be available for purchase in the Jennings Nature Shop. This program is designed for ages 16 to adult. Registration is free but required. Register online or call 724-794-6011.
2. March 2: Homeschool Maple Sugaring, Jennings Environmental Education Center
Jennings’ Homeschool Maple Sugaring program turns to the science and math behind maple sugaring. More than just a fun outing away from screens, the program aligns with math and science taught at many local schools and with state and national education standards. Your group of 12 or fewer can sign up for one of the timeslots offered on each date. The program is intended for kids ages 2 to 5, but older siblings are welcome to attend. Register your family or group for the 10 a.m. session or the 1 p.m. session. Free.
3. March 14: How Sweet It Is: Maple Syrup Making, North Park
Kids can learn how to identify and tap maple trees at the Latodami Nature Center. Rangers will lead kids through home-style methods to collect and boil the sap, eventually making it worthy of pouring over a warm plate of waffles. Kids must be registered with their grownups for this free program. Two sessions are available: 10-11:30 a.m. and 1-2:30 p.m. Registration is required.
4. March 4: Maple Sugaring for Scouts, Jennings Environmental Education Center
Scouts ages 7-11 years can earn an embroidered patch while learning about the science and math behind making maple syrup. Jennings staff will guide them through an outdoor tour of maple trees that includes hands-on activities. The 2-hour program will be offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is required by Feb. 24. The cost is $2 for scouts, free for leaders.
5. March 5: A Sweet Stroll Through Maple History, Jennings Environmental Education Center
Kids will receive an introduction to the mystery of how trees function — especially the magic of maple trees. Follow along on a guided walk that covers the history of maple sugaring. Participants will see a working evaporator and sample a taste of real maple syrup. Then stop by the Nature Shop where a variety of local maple products will be on sale. Multiple time slots are available for this free program. The deadline to register is March 3. Choose a time slot for 10 a.m.-noon, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 1-3 p.m. and 2-4 p.m.
6. March 11 and 12: Maple Weekend Taste and Tour, Somerset County
It could be your sweetest road trip ever! The Somerset County Maple Producers Association offers free tours at more than a dozen sugar camps on March 11 and 12. Download the brochure for a self-guided tour to learn about maple syrup production firsthand and sample a variety of products like maple barbecue sauce, maple balsamic vinaigrette and maple taffy. So many fun offerings! Hillegas Sugar Camp will offer samples of maple cotton candy and maple syrup beer from Whitehorse Brewing. Emerick’s Maple includes horse-drawn carriage rides. And plan a stop at Somerset Alliance Church, where Listie Volunteer Fire Dept. will serve up sourdough buckwheat cakes, pancakes and local sausage served with pure maple syrup. Find all the details here.
7. March 11, 18 and 25: Maple Madness, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania
Tour through age-old maple sugaring history with the Audubon Society at one of the three Maple Madness locations: Buffalo Creek Nature Park on March 11, Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve on March 18 and Succop Nature Park on March 25. Follow the maple demonstration trail to learn the science behind making maple syrup and maple sugar. Maple syrup and maple candy will be on sale in the Nature Shops to continue the fun at home. Registration is $12. Choose a time slot between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
8. April 22-23: Beaver County Maple Syrup & Music Festival, The Lodge at Brady’s Run Park
The Beaver County Maple Syrup & Music Festival returns for the 43rd year. Expect scrumptious buckwheat or traditional pancakes, with pure Pennsylvania maple syrup. Snack your way through maple treats like maple candy, maple cotton candy, maple lollipops, and maple-coated cashews and maple syrup. Plans include live musical entertainment, children’s activities, antique tractors, Revolutionary War and Civil War demonstrations, a Fun Run and nearly a hundred crafters.
9. April 22-23 and April 26-30: Pennsylvania Maple Festival, Meyersdale
Extend your maple sugar rush to spring with the 76th annual Pennsylvania Maple Festival that runs over two weekends in April. Meyersdale, which bills itself as Maple City USA, packs the schedule with activities to entertain visitors of all ages. Reenactors and interpreters dramatize the discovery of maple syrup in the “Legend of the Magic Water.” Kids can enjoy hands-on crafts and face painting. Living History exhibits include a cobbler shop and an antique doctor’s office. And, of course, all the maple fun you’d expect is at the heart of the festival. Admission to Maple Festival Park is free for ages 5 and younger, $1 for ages 6-12, $5 for grownups. Catch all the details here.