LAKEVIEW – Who doesn’t like pancakes with syrup? Well there’s gonna be plenty served up in the next couple weeks throughout Ohio.
It’s that time of the year when the syrup starts flowing and the festivals begin serving up that sugary delight. Many would be surprised to learn how big of a deal maple tapping is in Ohio and our surrounding area. There are over 900 maple producers in Ohio and numerous festivals and public demonstrations conducted each year throughout the typical harvest season from February through March.
North America is the only place in the world where maple syrup is produced. In the United States there are only 12 states that produce maple syrup. Each year Ohio ranks either 4th or 5th in maple production. The maple industry actually contributes $5 million to the state’s economy each year.
With spring on the way and the arrival of warm days and frosty nights in February and March, the sap of sugar rises from the roots, circulating sugar throughout the tree. The sap flows vertically in the inner bank of the trunk.
In order to tap a tree you drill about three inches deep into the tree and about two to four feet above the ground. Next you hammer a spout or “spike” into the hole taking care not to split the bark. The hole bored into the bark will drain sap from a column the width of the hole.
You must tap about 35-45 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.
Now is the time to tap into one of the best maple syrup festivals in the entire state of Ohio.
Indian Lake Maple Syrup Fest March 17-18
Indian Lake State Park offers the premier Maple Syrup Festival in the area.
The Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the Indian Lake State Park and Indian Lake Development Corporation host the annual Maple Syrup Festival each year.
This year it takes place on Saturday, March 17, and Sunday, March 18, at the Indian Lake State Park Campground. The festival itself is free and a pancake and sausage breakfast is offered for $6 for adults and $3 for children.
The festival includes a really cool wagon ride through the park to the tapping area. Here the process of how maple syrup is extracted from the tree is explained. After that it’s on to the sugar shack for a demonstration of the process by which sap transforms into maple syrup. Then for the big finale, buckets of sap are poured into an evaporator and brought to 7 degrees above boiling point, at which time water escapes, leaving the maple syrup in its purest form.
The Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce serves its famous pancake and sausage breakfast at the campground’s multi-purpose building. Nearly 2,500 pancakes are flipped during the course of this two-day event and about 210 pounds of pancake batter, 300 pounds of sausage and 21 gallons of maple syrup are used.
Maple syrup tours are conducted 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
The Pancake and Sausage Breakfast is 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday.
Be sure to purchase a bottle of your own pure maple syrup from the Chamber’s booth at the festival.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.