February 21, 2011

Michigan Maple Syrup Season: Find Ann Arbor Area Sugaring activities, Tours and Events for the Entire Family

From AnnArbor.com:

Tapping maple trees for their sap is easy to do, educational
and reaps tasty rewards for the entire family! 

Last weeks warmer weather meant that the sap started to flow a bit signaling the beginning of maple syrup season - Even if yesterday's storm temporarily has slowed things down... For the past few years, my kids have really enjoyed tapping trees and making syrup from sap, I even wrote about our experience making maple sugar last year; Lets face it, what kid wouldn't want to taste delicious sticky syrup made from the sap of the maple tree?

In Washtenaw County and nearby there are several places where families can go to learn about making Maple Syrup. I hope you take a moment and teach the kids this time honored spring tradition that was passed along from local Native Americans.

On February 26 & 27 at the Hudson Mills Activity Center at the Metropark (8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter), families can journey to the sugar bush on a guided tour traveling back in time to experience how maple syrup has been made over the years. Also, enjoy an all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfast served from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The guided tour is $3/person with the pancake breakfast at $3.50/child and $5.50/adult. Call 734-426-8211 or 800-477-3191 for more information.

Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation runs the yearly program "Sap To Syrup" at the County Farm Park (2960 Washtenaw Ave.at Platt Road, Ann Arbor) where families (and adults too!) learn to make their own maple Syrup. This year, the program is scheduled for Saturday March 5, at 1:00-2:00 p.m. for families and 3:00-4:00 p.m. for adults. The program, led by Naturalist Faye Stoner, demonstrates the process from drilling the hole and placing the tap to boiling down the sap to make syrup. So pack up the family, dress for the weather, and learn how to identify and tap maple trees, to make delicious maple syrup. You even have the chance to taste the sap as well as the final product! Pre-registration is required and the program fills up fast, so be sure to call (734) 971-6337 ext. 334 to register.

Ann Arbor families can also take a short drive to visit the sugarbush at Kensington Metropark (2240 W. Buno Rd., Milford). March 5-27 from noon-4:00 p.m., to visit the Metropark Farm Learning Center to learn about maple sugaring. Stop in for a hot breakfast from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Farmhouse Grille, and then head on a guided tour to the sugar bush to see the maple sugaring process, including tapping trees and boiling down the sap. Guided tours begin at noon with the last guided tour leaving at 2:30 p.m. After 4 p.m., the sugar bush will remain open for self-guided visits. For more information call 800-477-3178. A Metroparks vehicle entry permit is required to enter any Metropark in addition to a small fee of $3/adults and $1/seniors and children 3 to 12 years; kids under 3 are free.

On March 13, at 12:00 - 4:00 pm at the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center at the Waterloo Recreation Area (17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea) families can join in the fun at a maple sugar festival. Observe demonstrations of the whole process of making maple syrup from collecting the sap to the evaporation process, watch a short film demonstrating old-time methods and find many maple products for sale. Program fees are $2/person or $5/family for non-members of the Waterloo Natural History Association.

Real maple syrup is very much worth the effort and worth checking out, so if your children would enjoy trying something a little different, be sure to check out the many maple sugaring events around Ann Arbor in the coming month! Or if you feel up to the challenge try your hand at making maple syrup with your family, it's really easy to do.

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