Maple Weekends in Oneida County
Celebrating Local Maple and Agriculture
March 23-24 & March 30-31, 2019
When March hits, what do you first think of? St. Patrick’s Day? College basketball? What about maple syrup? March is Maple Syrup Month… or as some put it, Maple Madness. There are celebrations and events across New York State throughout the month. Right here in Oneida County, our local producers celebrate with all types of activities, tours and educational opportunities. The dates for 2019 are March 23-24 and 30-31.
So why is maple such a big deal in New York? According to www.nysmaple.com, NYS is “home to the largest resource of tappable maple tress within the US and over 2,000 maple sugarmakers. As an abundant and sustainable crop, New York’s gourmet maple industry is vibrant and [growing]. Our state’s unique climate and forestry make it naturally perfect for maple syrup production. This pure, additive-free sweetener is made simply by removing water from the sap to concentrate natural sugars and nutrients made by the tree.”
In our county, we have three locations where you can enjoy maple (and products): Vernon Verona Sherrill (VVS) High School, Tibbitts Maple and Shaw’s Maple Products.
VVS High School (Verona, NY)– I graduated from VVS in 2006 and full disclosure, I was naïve when it came to our FFA (Future Farmers of America) and maple programs. I lacked an appreciation for agriculture and how lucky we were to have such a phenomenal FFA program. I ran track during the spring and when we trained on the trails at school, I noticed tree taps but didn’t really care. Fast forward to working in a job that promotes tourism and the agriculture industry and my mentality has completely altered. I regret not caring more when I was younger but better late than never! I love learning about farmers, produce, markets and everything else in between. I also love how VVS celebrates.
During both weekends, VVS hosts an array of events. First, they have DELICIOUS pancake breakfasts each morning from 7:30am-12pm. Pro tip from experience: it’s better to go earlier than wait until the end of the morning. They can run out of food! Breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, eggs, toast, coffee, juice and of course syrup! The cost is $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and children under 12 and free for preschoolers. Even cooler, all proceeds from the maple operation and breakfast will support student activities.
Other events to take advantage of are free wagon rides, saphouse tours, a coloring contest for kids and several products for sale like cotton candy, syrup, sugar, coffee, mustard, etc.!
Tibbitts Maple (New Hartford, NY)– Tibbitts is a family run business that’s four generations and growing. They’ve been making pure maple products at their current facility since 1984. Tibbittsof is hosting Maple Weekend Open House during the designated dates from 10am-4pm daily and invites you to “tap into tradition”. Guests can join in the experience of making pure maple syrup and see the process from their trees to your table! They’ll be offering tours of their facility and visitors can get recipes and cooking tips for pure maple.
Tibbitts will have featured products to sample and buy such as maple cream doughnuts, maple lemonade, maple milk and of course pure maple products! For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at http://www.tibbittsmaple.com.
Shaw’s Maple Products (Clinton, NY) – Shaw’s was established in 2007 after their family visited a local high school during Maple Weekend. They wanted to teach their children that you can create a natural and unrefined sweetener that comes from maple trees located right on their property!
Maple Weekend will run 10am-4pm each day for both weekends in March. Visitors are welcomed for tours of their sugar house as they boil the sap out of their wood-fired evaporator. Watch the process and see the Shaws make fresh maple cotton candy to try. Guests can also enjoy delicious samples of and purchase products. Tours will provide a full explanation of the maple farming process; learn how it works, taste how it smells, etc. Don’t miss their newest product; maple bourbon barrel-aged syrup over ice cream (don’t worry, I’m drooling too).
As I get older and continue to work in the tourism industry, my perspective on a lot of things have changed. I have several friends who live in major cities or downstate and can never experience farmer’s markets, farm-to-table restaurants and agriculture the way we can in Central New York. It’s made me realize how lucky we are. I believe it’s so important to support our farmers when we can. They rely on us and we rely on them so make your plans now for Maple Weekends 2019! You won’t regret it.