Catskills syrupmakers celebrate Maple Weekend(s)

We found the pot of gold: It's at Roxbury Mountain Maple. (And a dozen-plus other syrupmakers around the Catskills, all celebrating Maple Weekend on March 16-17 and 23-24.) Photo from Roxbury Mountain Maple's Facebook page.

Editor's note: We have added more events to this post since it was first published. 

Legend has it that an Iroquois chief accidentally tapped a maple when he’d just needed someplace to stick his tomahawk, and his significant other decided to try cooking with the liquid from the wounded tree. Thus began tree-to-table, and a lively lot of characters have been refining the art ever since.

Over the intervening years, syrup harvesters have found ways to be a bit gentler to the trees, which graciously donate their sweet essence year after year to humans who craft it into all sorts of delectable treats, a gentle act of organized foraging.

New York forests bleed some of the best maple sap anywhere, and New York family farms use it to create some heavenly treats. Some good folks way up in Wyoming County decided this was worthy of celebration and created Maple Weekend for your enjoyment, and you’re invited to come learn their ways and sample their results.

Maple Weekend is actually two weekends, March 16-17 and 23-24, and takes place from 10am-4pm on all four days; a couple of places are celebrating on slightly different schedules, as noted below. Here’s our county-by-county guide to our region’s festivities.

DELAWARE COUNTY

At Brookside Maple in Delancey, you’re invited to come check out their new equipment in action. The wood-fired evaporator will be boiling up fresh batches, and they’ll have all sorts of maple-themed refreshments for the sampling. Call (607) 746-6618 for directions and more information.

While you’re in Delancey, you can also stop in on the good folks of Catskill Mountain Maple/ Maplewood Farm & Orchard. They’ll be celebrating Maple Weekend with a complimentary pancake, egg and sausage feast all four days til 2pm, along with tours, demonstrations and hands-on experiences; make your own maple candy or help out with the maple cream batch.

Demonstrations of the syrup-making process are part of the fun at Dar-View Maple, also in Delancey. (Delancey is clearly a veritable Mecca of mapledom.) They’ll also give you a tour of their working dairy operation. Call (845) 676-4777 or (607) 287-3662 to find out more.

At North Franklin Maple Syrup Company in North Franklin, they’ll be working on syrup, granulated sugar, cream and candy. They’re eager to demonstrate the syrupmaking process of reverse osmosis, a method of getting water out of sap at low temperatures that's come a long way from the days of boiling sap in a bucket.

At Roxbury Mountain Maple in Hobart they’d love to have you stop in and experience their view, their farm animals, their family of eight kids who all help out, and their 8,000 taps. (At a thousand taps per aforementioned kid, it’s probably lucky that everyone pitches in.) Come by for samples and hot drinks and pastries; please note that they’ll be celebrating between noon and 5pm, not 10 to 4.

Shaver Hill Farm in Harpersfield will feed you pancakes and sausage on any of the four mornings, and on March 24 and 25 they’ll be donating the proceeds to the Grange. You can check out the creation of cream, sugar, and candy, then take a horse and wagon ride.

In Fleischmanns, the Vly Creek Maple Farm will be serving sweet refreshments, just the thing for after you’ve enjoyed their self-guided walking tour. They promise syrup making demonstrations and more; call (845) 254-4283.

The Fleischmanns First Maple Festival takes over the heart of the village of Fleischmanns beginning Friday, March 22, when a "Maple Princess" will be crowned on the steps of the historic Skene Memorial Library. The celebration continues on Saturday with the annual Fleischmanns First Maple Bake Off. Enter your best homemade maple creation in the contest (apply online at www.markproject.org or call 845 586-3500) and then taste all the entries at the Maple Bake Off Café in the former telephone building. (1035 Main Street on Saturday from 4pm to 6pm. Tickets at $15, and the judging happens at 5pm.) The Ate O Ate food truck will be offering maple themed meals next to bake-off cafe (Saturday, March 23rd from 1pm to 6pm). To wrap up the weekend, the annual Maple Pancake Breakfast at the Fleischmanns Community Church is serving mapley goodies on Sunday from 8am to 11am. (Tickets for the breakfast are $7, children under 12 are free.)

SCHOHARIE COUNTY

At Buck Hill Farm in Jefferson, they’ve got a full country breakfast cooking on both Maple Sundays from 8am to 1pm. They’ve also got New York-made Haussman’s pancake and muffin mixes and all kinds of gift boxes -- and if you’re hankering to try syrupmaking for yourself, they’ve got evaporators for sale.

Things will also be boiling at Buck's Maple Barn in Jefferson in their wood-fired evaporator. Weather permitting, they say, they’ll hook you up with a bucket and let you experience the whole deal, “from tree to table,” as they say. Call (607) 652-3188 for more.

At Maple Hill Farms in Cobleskill, the country store features both modern and old-school equipment on display, complete with video demos. Take home some maple bread or maple glazed nuts (can we get a 'Mmmm'?) and take a hayride in the sugarbush after your educational tour.

Stone House Farm in Sharon Springs does the pancake-breakfast thing from 8am to 1pm, every weekend morning, all season long. Boiling starts at 10am. For more call (518) 284-2476.

At Thompson's Sugar Shack in Jefferson, along with the tours of the facilities, Dan and Missy will have a coloring station set up for the kids. This may distract them long enough for you to munch maple cocktail hotdogs and inhale maple cheesecake for dessert. Please note that Maple Weekend will be observed only on March 16 and 17 at Thompson’s.

SULLIVAN COUNTY

Justus Asthalter Maple Syrup, Inc. in Parksville has been in operation since Grandpa Dutch started growing his boyhood love of the sap into a business, back around the end of World War II. By the time Dutch passed in 2006, he had witnessed the fourth generation demand their own evaporator as preteens. It's an incredible family saga, sweetened with what the River Reporter has named “#1 Maple Syrup” three years in a row.

ULSTER COUNTY

You can come spend the whole weekend a-sugaring at Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, with an ample helping of environmental education and gorgeous hiking trails on the side -- or just come by for one of the tours of their facilities going on every half-hour. At the end of your tour, they break out the free samples. Maple soda, anyone?

Get your free pancake breakfast at Platte Creek Maple Farm in Saugerties between 9am and 2pm on March 23 and 24. Please note that these are the only dates when Platte Creek will be offering tours, but get there on those days and enjoy their charming creekside farm. More info: (845) 853-4240.

For more Maple Weekend events happening around New York State, see the event's website at mapleweekend.com, or the Maple Weekend Facebook page.

Below: Catskills folksinger "Story Laurie" McIntosh sings "Maple Syrup" at Cabaradio, the Pine Hill Community Center's live-broadcast Catskills variety show, on March 9, 2013.