Sweet season approaches: Maple Weekend features more stops than ever

Frank Heerkens, vice president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers' Association provincially as well as the organization's Eastern Ontario chapter, compares fresh syrup to standard colour samples at the recently revived Kemptville Agroforestry Educational Centre. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

April 6-7 across Ontario

EASTERN ONTARIO — The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association (OMSPA) is celebrating another successful year hosting the provincial event, Maple Weekend, and making plans to enhance the event in the coming years. In 2019, the date for Maple Weekend has been set for the first weekend in April – April 6 and 7 – and there will be more participating sugarbushes to visit than ever before.

Each year, this free, two-day, family-friendly event celebrates Ontario’s maple heritage and the maple producers who produce this sweet liquid gold. In 2017, the annual Maple Weekend celebration was nominated for Ontario Tourism Event of the Year, and in 2018 the event drew more than 15,000 visitors to maple sugar bushes across the province.

This year, it’s expected there will be close to 80 producers taking part in this sweet event, offering incentives to visitors to visit one or more sugarbushes over Maple Weekend. Incentives vary from producer to producer, but often take the form of special activities like pancake breakfasts, sugar bush trail adventures, sugar making demonstrations, taffy on snow, horse-drawn sleigh-rides and more.

“Here at OMSPA, we’re excited to be hosting Maple Weekend again in 2019,” Leann Thompson, Maple Weekend committee chair said, “Each year our producers really pull out all the stops to entice visitors to visit their sugarbush. This year we’re hoping visitors will plan to experience more than one sugarbush, to get the full range of maple syrup experience.”

In Ontario, the annual trip to a local sugarbush is one of the hallmarks of spring, and with so many sugar maple trees found here, Ontario is the perfect place to celebrate maple syrup season. During Maple Weekend, participating maple syrup producers demonstrate how maple syrup is made, from tree to table, while inviting visitors to experience the centuries-old craft of maple sugaring.

Thompson explained that visitors can expect to experience the full range of what maple syrup production entails, from boiling sap over an open fire or processing it through high-tech systems using modern maple syrup evaporators.

“Maple Weekend is the perfect opportunity to pick up some freshly made maple syrup, indulge in some sweet taffy, and see first-hand how Ontario’s sweetest farm product is produced,” Thompson said, “The specials and activities that take place at participating sugarbushes is the best way to experience our maple heritage.”

A list of participating Maple Weekend maple syrup producers is available on the Maple Weekend website, along with further details about specials and activities for visitors. To date, close to 80 producers have registered to participate in the 2019 event. Visitors are invited to visit the Maple Weekend website at www.mapleweekend.ca to see what producers have in store for this favourite springtime event.

As the official voice of sugar makers in the province, OMSPA represents over 600 maple syrup producers from across the province, who are committed to producing a high quality product for consumers to enjoy. Members are involved with a wide range of activities organized at the provincial level or through one of the 11 local chapters located across the maple producing areas of Ontario.

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