Andrew and I participated in the first of two ‘Maple Weekends‘ here in Western New York this past weekend. Maple producers all over the state banded together about 20 years ago and started opening their doors to the public for one (and then expanded to two) weekends each season to demonstrate maple syrup production.
I covered a local family–Weber’s Maple–last weekend for the Advertiser. They operate a landscaping business during the warmer months and have recently gotten into maple syrup.
After learning all about maple syrup myself and more about the weekend activities, I thought surprising Andrew with a maple pancake breakfast and then some stops at syrup producers could be fun. The breakfast at the Gowanda Fire Hall was recommended to me, so that’s where we went.
I wish we could say we got up bright and early, but we didn’t. Our maple ‘breakfast’ turned into a maple lunch by the time we reached our destination, where they served pancakes (incredibly good–could not stop eating them!), eggs, bacon, sausage and–of course–lots of real maple syrup on the tables.
Gowanda is about 35 minutes south of East Aurora… Along the way, I mentioned to Andrew that it was getting ‘pretty rural’ out here. He replied, “No honey, we left ‘rural’ two towns ago.” Let’s just say that the sleepy ‘hamlet’ of East Aurora is a bustling metropolis compared to towns and villages just miles to the South.
After breakfast, we stopped at Maple Glen Sugar House, just a mile or so down the road, to check out their production.
They had tours just outside the sugar house, in the midst of trees bearing old sap buckets, which have been replaced by vacuum tubing nowadays.
Horse cart rides for kids…
And we got to see sap boiling away in the evaporators.
After Maple Glen, we headed back home and visited Weber’s Maple again, where they had a sled dog team.
Dean Weber was on hand to demonstrate how the evaporator works and explain the process to visitors.
Andrew had a great time and left with more maple ‘cotton candy,’ maple candies (where is this sweet tooth coming from??) and we also got a small container of Grade B syrup. Grade B is the darkest and has the most ‘maple’ flavor. It’s hard to find in stores and I really like it, so I wanted to stock up while I could.
All in all, we had a great time spending all morning (and into the afternoon) together on a ‘day date’ taking advantage of local activities. It was pretty cheap, too; we spent $14 on breakfast (it’s a fundraiser, after all) and $20 on maple stuff, both of which supported local businesses.
For anyone in the Western NY area, it’s going on next weekend, too. Highly recommended for families 🙂