Cold weather a boon for the syrup harvest
There are exceptions, however, and they include the folks who are tapping the trees, stringing the lines and hanging the buckets for this year’s maple syrup harvest at Island Lake Conservation Area.
It also means the weather should be a little more appropriate for 20th annual Maple Syrup Festival, scheduled for March 23-24.
“The snow is insulating the ground and it will allow the sap to run nicer,” explained Lynn Picard, an outdoor education teacher with the Upper Grand District School Board, who works out of Island Lake and is a regular contributor to the syrup operation.
Ms. Picard said that, ideally, the weather should hover around –5º F at night and around +5º F during the day for the sap run – close to what’s currently predicted for this weekend.
“In 2012, it got so hot, so quickly, the trees budded early,” recalled Ms. Picard. When that happens, the maple tree’s sap is rerouted to feed the buds and loses its sweetness.
“You can actually hurt the tree if you tap it past the budding stage,” said Ms. Picard.
The Island Lake crew tapped its first tree last Friday and expects to have sap running into about 200 pails during next week’s March break.
This year’s Maple Syrup Festival, which is run by Orangeville Optimists, will feature the traditional all-day pancake breakfast (adults $7, children under 12 $4), along with a barbecue and maple syrup sales.
It wouldn’t be complete without the maple bush tour and demonstrations, as well as a tour of the sugar shack where visitors can see the evaporator at work.
This year, there should be plenty of snow on hand for people to make their own taffy. (They actually had to bring some in last year, because there was none of the white stuff on the ground).
Local artisan Jim Menken will be carving one of his wood sculptures with his chainsaw, and the Belgian horse drawn wagon ride is back for another year.
There will be a children’s crafts tent and the kids will also be entertained by face painting and by a balloon artist.
The entertainment includes party magician Ron Guttman and martial arts demonstrations by Toms Martial Arts.
Chanda’s School of Dance will be demonstrating its talents, along with a birds of prey demonstration and a rope walk by the Third Orangeville Scouts.
There will also be a constant flow of live music.
The festival runs Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Admission is $10 and children under 12 get in for free. The admission includes an activity passport and sponsors’ “swag bag.”