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Maple Sugar Weekends in Pennsylvania
For some, maple is associated with the brilliant fall colors of New England or Canada, while for others it’s associated with the comfort of more close-to-home weekend breakfasts—but for those who hail from Pennsylvania’s maple regions, the first tapping of the maple trees is the quintessence of spring. Welcome spring and all the delicate sweetness it brings at two long-running Maple Sugar festivals in Pennsylvania’s maple counties. What better way to usher in warmer weather than to tap into the concentrated sugars of the winter now past in the maple woods of Pennsylvania—where food, festivities, and local flavor are all in abundance.
On March 21st through 22nd, you can sample the local, sugary goodness of Pennsylvania forests and farms at the 16th Annual Maple Weekend in Potter and Tioga counties. For two days, those from outside this idyllic region dappled with state parks and ever-present maple trees can get an inside look at twenty different maple syrup farms, each of which feature collection and evaporation processes unique to the philosophy of each farm—such as authentic traditional wood fire evaporation or modern natural gas-powered evaporation. At Patterson Farms in Westfield, the largest producer of maple syrup in the state, guests can learn about the history of maple syrup from the time of the Native Americans to the 21st century, as well as receive free samples of pancakes and maple sausage. At Brookfield Maple Farm in Westfield, witness boiling demonstrations at a USDA Certified Organic maple farm while sampling free hot dogs cooked in maple sap. At the Sons of Dunn Family Farm in Coudersport, visitors can observe the reverse osmosis evaporation process and partake in the irresistible treat in the form of maple lollipops, candy, and cotton candy. At Raker’s Sugar Bush Farm in Liberty, which has been producing maple products since 1837, you can tour one of the oldest sugar camps operating in Pennsylvania, watch a slide show, sample maple candy, and weather permitting—enjoy a scenic hayride to the woods. At Sticky Bucket Maple in Sabinsville, enjoy French toast, maple sausage, “bucket” brownies, and mulled maple tea. To taste the best that maple weekend has to offer, be sure to review the brochure and a complete map and description of each farm’s activities for planning purposes.
At Meyersdale’s 73rd Maple Festival, maple syrup may be the reason for the season, but there’s much more to do and see at this week-long festival. Running from March 28th through April 5th (except Monday and Tuesday, March 30-31), you won’t have to wander far from Meyersdale’s Festival Square to experience rustic local cuisine and culture. Starting at 8 a.m., you can visit the Lions Club Pancake House for pancakes, fresh sausage, and 100% pure Somerset county maple syrup. After getting your fill of the region’s golden elixir, visitors can stroll through the Festival Park grounds, where an authentic Country Store allows one to munch on a dill pickle or an apple from the barrel or try some of the penny candy, maple products, or homemade bread as in bygone eras. In addition to concessions and displays of local artists, the Festival Park grounds also showcases maple syrup making demonstrations, a quilt show, and an antique tractor and farm machinery show. From 11 a.m to 4 p.m. at “Sit and Sip,” a variety of alcoholic beverages will be available for tasting from a local brewery, distillery, and winery—including Maple Beer and Maple Rye Whiskey. On April 4th, Meyerdale’s elaborate Pennsylvania Maple Festival Parade will feature marching bands, floats, twirling, rescue trucks, and show horses—but if you prefer to participate in a procession rather than just witness one, health enthusiasts can opt to compete in the Maple 5K Run/Walk earlier that same day. On April 5th, for some authentic rural entertainment, the Somerset County Fairgrounds will host a horse pulling contest. On most evenings, a dinner theater production of “Legend of the Magic Water” or other live entertainment will be available. Admission to the festival is $5, as is admission to the “Sit and Sip” Garden. Please be sure to review the Festival brochure for a complete listing of activities and times.