Above: Old-fashioned aprons hang in a Main Street window in Fleischmanns for the annual Maple Bake Off. Photo courtesy of Fleischmanns First.
The sights, sounds and smells of sap boiling in the sugarhouse mean that sweetness, like springtime, is just around the corner.
Syrupmaking is about as historic and local and hands-on as food production gets -- and nothing beats that flavor. Shake off the late-winter blahs and come celebrate Maple Weekend -- actually two weekends of open houses -- in the sugar shacks of the Catskills. Listed below are events that are within the Watershed Post's coverage area; a statewide list of all 146 locations can be found at mapleweekend.com.
Unless otherwise specified, the syrup-crafters listed below will be welcoming company on all four days of Maple Weekend: March 22-23, and March 29-30. Many visits and tours are free; there may be additional charges for breakfasts, pony rides, and other treats.
You can also pick up a print copy of the Catskills Food Guide while you taste the season's first syrup. Print copies of our Catskills Food Guide will be on hand at Maple Weekend festivities at Shaver-Hill Farm, Roxbury Mountain Maple, Frost Valley YMCA, the Greene County Agroforestry Resource Center, Thompson's Sugar Shack, and Tree Juice Maple Syrup.
Come visit Jake and Ryan at Tree Juice Maple Syrup, an ingenious maple syrup CSA brought to us by the "cow-to-cone" gelato folks at Lazy Crazy Acres. They’re welcoming visitors on Rider Hollow Road in Arkville, on March 22 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fleischmanns has a community tradition of sweetness with the annual Maple Festival. On March 21, the festival kicks off at 4 p.m. at the Skene Library, with the crowning of this year's Maple Royalty. On March 22, the newly anointed royal court will preside over the Maple Bake Off Café from 4-6 p.m.: $15 gets you music, maple treats a-plenty, and intense culinary action as the bake-off is judged. Afterwards, the sweets are auctioned off. On March 23, from 8-11 a.m., come down to the Fleischmanns Community Church for a maple-themed breakfast.
Above: The 2013 Fleischmanns Maple Court. Photo courtesy of Fleischmanns First.
Also in Fleischmanns, you can track some sweet stuff to its source at Vly Creek Maple Farm, where you’re invited for demonstrations, refreshments and a self-guided wander.
Just down the pike in Margaretville, you can check out the small-scale family operations and maple-sugar-patty making at the Kenneth Burger Farm.
Delancey is Syrup Heaven, with three unique family operations to visit. One is Dar-View Farm, a family-run dairy operation since 1930 that has, so to speak, branched out into sap. You’re invited over to tour, sample, and pet the critters.
Delancey is the scene of a maple-flavored tale that speaks to all that is sweet about small Catskills towns. When brothers Matt and Micah Scobie lost their maple-sugar-hobbyist father a few years ago, neighbor Tom Kaufman helped them get organized as Brookside Maple. The brothers will be welcoming guests around their wood-fired evaporator throughout Maple Weekend.
They could hardly have better mentoring. Kaufman is proprietor of the international and state-of-the-art Catskill Mountain Maple, also in Delancey, where they’re serving up a full breakfast for free in their heated showroom til 2 p.m. on all four Maple Weekend days. They invite you to tour, sample and make your own candy.
Come up to North Franklin and learn about the fascinating-sounding process of reverse osmosis. The folks at North Franklin Maple Syrup will be boiling and canning up a storm. Besides the syrup, sugar, cream, and candy, they’ve got maple popcorn, maple cotton, and fudge.
They’ve got 150 miles of tubing on five acres up at Roxbury Mountain Maple, so it’s a good thing they’ve got eight kids who go hands-on in the operation. How sweet is that? Come to Hobart, find out for yourself, and play with the goats; they’re open 12-6 p.m.
At Shaver-Hill Maple Farm in Harpersfield, they’ll show you how they tap the trees and give you a horse-drawn tour of the sugarbush. David, Dennis and Dwayne Hill are continuing a family tradition that dates back to 1912.
On Saturday, March 22, come out to Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for Maple Fest: Celebrating the Wonderful World of Maple Syrup. Taste-test the wares of the Greene County Maple Producers Association and learn all about the science of sweet syrup, then and now.
In Jefferson, Buck's Maple Barn invites you to grab a bucket and get the entire “tree-to-table” experience for yourself.
At Thompson’s Sugar Shack, also in Jefferson, Dan and Missy will welcome you and explain how the maple-syrup hobby they resurrected from childhood memories grew into the creation of nine different products over the course of the past ten years. Try out the results over pancakes. Or taste their fresh maple doughnuts, caramel corn, brittle, and cheesecake.
Above: Sap flowing at Thompson's Sugar Shack. Photo from Thompson's Facebook page.
In Cobleskill, Maple Hill Farm Enterprises will be celebrating the “first and sweetest harvest” with comprehensive tours of their major family operation, starting with tractor and wagon rides through the sugarbush. They’ve got a general store there that sells organic foods, and a neighbor farm is making organic pancakes to showcase their syrup.
At Stone House Farm in Sharon Springs, Tim and Patti Everett will be pouring it on the pancakes from 8 a.m. til 1 p.m.; there are tempting free samples for dessert, and wagon rides to the sugarbush if weather permits.
Nestled between the Rondout Reservoir and the Sundown/Denman Mountain Wild Forest in Grahamsville, the Catskill Mountain Sugar House is a large operation shepherded by the Gargliano family, who’ve been local for seven generations. Walter and Barbara are both attorneys, but still find sweet sanity in the sugarbush. Come see their new evaporator in action and find unique maple-themed gifts.
In Parksville, the culmination of four generations of sugar tappers can be witnessed at Justus Asthalter Maple Syrup, Inc. Grandpa Dutch would be proud: his descendants have been named producers of the “#1 Maple Syrup” by the River Reporter three years running. After tasting the syrup, take a guided hike or a snowshoe along the Parksville O & W Rail Trail, hosted by Trailkeeper.org, Morgan Outdoors, and Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Frost Valley YMCA celebrates Maple Weekend at its gorgeous Claryville conference center, with comprehensive education on the subject of tree-to-table goodies and ample samples. Try some maple soda.
Platte Creek Maple Farm in Saugerties would love to have you over for a pancake breakfast during the first round of Maple Weekend, March 22-23, or for a visit and tour of their lovely creekside farm during either weekend.
Above: Platte Creek Farm's wood pile is bigger than yours. Photo from Platte Creek's Facebook page.
The Fleischmanns First Maple Festival is a Watershed Post advertiser.