The Chippewa Nature Center (CNC) is celebrating a food this Saturday that is significant in our region’s history with Maple Syrup Day, March 19
. The annual event is being held for the first time since 2019. It was canceled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making syrup from sap in the evaporator
“We’re excited to bring it back. We think this is a first sign of spring,” says Michelle Fournier, school and public program director for the CNC. She’s been in that position since January and has worked for the nature center since 2010. Fournier adds, “People get to experience the magic and the sweetness that doesn’t happen everywhere in the world.”
Fournier shares that maple syrup originated with the indigenous people of our region. She says they would boil the tree sap down to sugar and not only eat it as a food but use it as a preservative in the absence of salt.
Maple Syrup Day is scheduled from 10am to 4pm at the CNC, which is located at 400 S. Badour Road, south of Midland. Admission is free for CNC members and all children under the age of 18. The cost is $5 for nonmember adults.
Visitors can take a wagon ride to the Sugarhouse to watch the process to turn sap into pure maple syrup. There will also be an 1870s sap boiling demonstration. In addition, Fournier says, “My husband will show how to make maple syrup at home.” Visitors can also take tours of the sugar bush and see how trees are tapped. 100-150 trees are tapped on the center’s property.
You can see how tree sap is made into maple syrup at the CNC's Sugar House.
The event includes a scavenger hunt with a chance to win prizes if the visitor completes the hunt. Near the Schoolhouse and Homestead areas, story times, a puppet play, crafts, games, and a taste of maple syrup taffy or “sugar on snow” are planned.
A huge pot was used to boil syrup in the 1870s.
A pancake meal is being offered in the Visitor Center from 10am-2pm. The menu includes pancakes, REAL maple syrup, apple sauce, milk, and coffee. For the first time, there will be timed-entry for seating. The CNC recommends an advance ticket purchase for the meal at www.chippewanaturecenter.org/maple-syrup-day
. Some tickets will be available at the event. The meal costs $9 for ages 13 and up, $6 for ages 3-12, and free for children under 3. Members receive a 20% discount.
If you can’t attend Maple Syrup Day, Fournier says the Sugar House will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm through the rest of March with guides demonstrating how they turn sap into maple syrup.