As a child, I was taught two very important lessons: (1) that a waffle wasn’t worth eating if every little indent wasn’t filled with maple syrup and (2) a pancake wasn’t even edible without that extra side of maple syrup to dip the already covered bite in to. Despite this ongoing obsession, it never occurred to me that if I tried hard enough I could probably hear the sap dripping out of the thousands of maple trees being tapped in my back yard or even smell the sap being boiled to make the freshest, most delicious maple syrup. It was not until I began my career at the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau that I had the pleasure of attending Maple Weekends; an event that has forever changed my appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into making this widely known symbol of the Adirondack Coast.
As a native of the Adirondack Coast, I am sad to say that my GPS had to be used and came in quite handy when driving the back roads up to Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy, NY. Despite my poor sense of direction, I knew I was in the right spot when I started to see the matrix of plastic tubing connecting each maple tree to Parker’s centralized sugarhouse. Now I don’t know if any of you still picture the metal spile and bucket hanging from the maple trees to collect sap (because I definitely did), but technology has brought maple syrup production to heightened levels with this new tapping system. Now Parker Family Maple Farm can successfully tap well over 30,000 maple trees and increase their production efficiency; bringing more maple syrup to us for eating!
Opening day of Maple Weekends was a cold day on the Adirondack Coast; a cold day that you just seemed to forget when walking into the cloud of maple syrup scent that filled the air of the evaporator room. As you watched the steam rise from this stainless steel contraption, you could hear the positivity buzzing as the media took advantage of interview opportunities with the Parker Family, Congressman Bill Owens, and our very own Visitors Bureau staff. When it came time to do the ceremonial tapping of the tree, a flock of ducks (obviously ready for spring) greeted the group and, almost like it was planned, guided us to the maple trees that had been designated for tapping before flying off.
Senator Betty Little and the New York State Maple Princess arrived just in time to join in on the maple tree tapping ceremony and led the way to the pancake breakfast that was awaiting guests. Walking in to the breakfast, which was catered by the Hungry Bear, you could see a sea of winter hats, coats, and gloves slowly being shed off with the heat of the wood stove. The aroma of pancakes waiting to be smothered in Parker’s Maple Syrup filled the air and you could sense the excitement of the families waiting in line to go through the buffet. After breakfast, the children peered out the window at the horse and wagon rides that kept going by, anxiously awaiting their parents ok.
Once the ok was given, children rushed outside to greet the Clydesdale horses that were gracefully pulling the attached wagon filled with smiling faces. As the horses pranced to the sound of the jingle bells around their necks, you could see the timeline of steps in the maple syrup making process from the sites around you. It all begins with the never ending rows of maple trees that provide the sap, which travels through the tapping system back to the sugarhouse where it is boiled and made into the syrup that we all love so much. It truly showcased this extraordinary process and only made my support for the buy local movement stronger.
Next March bring your family, friends, neighbors, or whoever to this great event on the Adirondack Coast! With over 20 different participants across the region, a pancake breakfast, wagon rides, and other delicious maple flavored products, you will not regret it!