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North country maple producers celebrate with open houses

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CANTON - Curious about how sap from maple trees gets transformed into maple syrup, candy, cream and other sweet treats?

To help celebrate the state’s annual Maple Weekend, 14 maple producers in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties are hosting open houses the weekends of March 16-17 and March 22-23.

Most will demonstrate the syrup-making process and have products available for sampling and for sale. Some sites will also offer other activities like horse and wagon rides, walks in the woods, buggy rides and face painting.

Activities are free and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, but not all producers are open all four days (see schedule below).

Michael R. Kenny and his wife, Debra J., are looking forward to showing visitors their Sweeter Creations Sugar House, 348 Pearson Road, Madrid.

The couple will display three types of sap collection: traditional buckets, vacuum drain tubing and pipeline tubing that relies on gravity. It takes about 42 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.

“We have old traditional methods as well as advanced methods,” Mr. Kenny said. “I have been doing this since I was six years old, and I’ve never outgrown it. It’s a labor of love.”

Mrs. Kenny said Maple Weekend events give people the chance to enjoy the warming weather, learn something different and meet new people. ”The weather that’s coming looks very promising right now,” said Nadeen R. Lyndaker, president of the Lewis County Maple Producers Association, which also includes syrup-makers from Jefferson, Oswego and Oneida counties.

Local producers have begun tapping, and a handful have already done some boiling, Mrs. Lyndaker said.

“I haven’t heard too much of the sugar content,” she said. “It’s way too early for that.”

However, there appears to be ample moisture for a good season, Mrs. Lyndaker said.

The weekends are sponsored by the New York State Maple Producers Association and take place at roughly 140 locations throughout the state. Last year, the state had about 2 million taps, making it the second largest maple producing state in the country, according to the association.

The 1,500 maple producers in the state made 360,000 gallons of syrup in 2012, accounting for about 19 percent of the country’s syrup, according to statistics.

Maple producers that are hosting events are listed by county at www.mapleweekend.com. In St. Lawrence County, they include:

■ Woody’s Maple, James Woodrow, 418 Underwood Road, Hermon. Demonstrations will include the process of making syrup from the gathering of sap into the boiling of syrup. There will also be maple cotton, maple sugar and cream demonstrations as well as bottling syrup. Antiques will be on display in the sugarhouse. Open, March 16-17, 23-24. Phone: 347-2395; Email: jjaw@tds.net.

■ Fine-n-Dandy, Donald Finen, 2620 County Route 35, Norwood. Activities will include making maple sugar and/or cream and packaging syrup. Visitors can walk in the woods to observe the multiple use concept of forest management. Free samples at the sugarhouse. Open, March 23,24. Phone: 528-4700; 388-4149. Email: findandy@twcny.rr.com. Website: www.slcmaple.com/114/fine-n-dandy

■ Finen Maple Products, Jim and Margaret Finen, 529 Austin Ridge Road, Norwood. Enjoy samples of items made with maple syrup as well as buggy rides through the sugar woods, weather permitting. Freshly made maple syrup will be for sale as well as gift baskets. Open, March 16, 17 and 23. Phone 240-405-2231; 301-524-8628. Email: finenmapel@gmail.com. Website: www.finenmapleproducts.com.

■ Sweeter Creations Sugar House, Michael and Debra Kenny, 348 Pearson Road, Madrid. Sweeter Creations taps about 1,200 taps by traditional methods as well as modern methods of vacuum tubing using a new check valve spout adapter. Available products will include maple syrup, maple cream, molded maple sugar, granulated maple sugar, gift baskets with New Hope Mills pancake mix, maple coffee and more. Open March 16-17, 23-24. Phone: 322-5535; Email: Blondie8363@gmail.com.

■ Orebed Sugar Shack, Jeff and Lori Jenness, 503 Orebed Road, DeKalb Juction. Heated sugar house and an old-fashioned wood fired evaporator will be running. Other activities include face painting, tours and demonstrations of making granulated maple sugar. The sugaring process will be explained from start to finish. Free samples of maple cream, maple candy and syrup. Open, March, 16-17, 23-24. Phone: 347-3415; 528-2450. Email: orebedsugarshack@tds.net. Website: www.orebedmaplesugarshack.com.

■ Tupper’s Hilltop Maple Treats, Kenneth and Jean Tupper, 760 Route 68, Canton. New equipment will be demonstrated as well as the making of cream and sugar cakes. Products available for sample and sale. Open, March 16-17.

Phone: 386-2162. Email: jean_tupper@yahoo.com. Website: www.slcmaple.com.

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