The 22nd Annual Maple Syrup Festival at Leane and Michael's Sugarbush Farm in Salem, Indiana is set to begin the 2nd-3rd of March. The festival is open from 9am to 5pm. Tours are available three times daily at 10am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm. Tours require registration and cost $10 for adults and $5 for under 18, children must be over the age of 8 to participate. Registration can be done ahead of time or at the fair provided there is still space available; tour groups are limited to 10 people.
“Maple syrup festivities are fun and educational outdoor events that are always a good time for families and people of all ages,” said Mary Ross of the Mohawk Valley Trading Company where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap.
“Maple syrup and sugar have played an important role in our nation’s history.” Ross continued, “After the passage of the 1764 Sugar Act, which imposed high tariffs on imported sugar, maple sugar became even more popular. And before he became president, Thomas Jefferson liked the idea that maple sugar could be produced by citizens of the new nation and sever it’s dependence on sugar grown on plantations in the British Caribbean. And at the end of a visit to Vermont, in a speech he gave in Bennington, Jefferson said, "Attention to our sugar orchards is essentially necessary to secure the independence of our country."
More than 50 homemade craft vendors are expected this year with goods ranging from hand woven rugs to silver jewelry and home baked bread. There is no entry fee or parking fee for the festival and many family-friendly activities are available for free.
About Maple Syrup
Next to honey, maple syrup is the most popular natural sweetener in North America and its production predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple syrup and making maple sugar (made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup) before those geographic boundaries existed. There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist and many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.
The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.
When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul fire wood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.
In the mid-1800’s syrup production changed again. Round cauldrons were replaced by flat pans in order to increase surface area and therefore allow for faster evaporation. Over the next 60 year several variations on this design were patented. Draft animals were replaced by tractors and heating methods expanded to include propane, oil and natural gas as well as wood.
The Mohawk Valley Trading Company offers the highest quality unprocessed natural products they can produce namely; maple syrup, honey, beeswax, natural skin care products and natural stone. In addition, they offer tea and spices from around the world such, Demerara sugar, Madagascar vanilla beans, Vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla beans, ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract, allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and mace.
Hours of operations are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, seven days a week. Reach them at (315)-519-2640 to learn more.
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