Something sweet is happening in Oglebay! Naturalists at Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center have been working hard preparing this year’s harvest of maple syrup, which the public can enjoy during OI’s annual Maple Sugaring Day.
Maple Sugaring Day takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 16, in the woods behind Camp Russel in Oglebay.
Guests will watch maple syrup being made, learn about the tapping process, the history of maple syrup production and how to identify maple trees. They will taste fresh maple syrup during a hot pancake breakfast at Camp Russel. Crafts, storytelling and live bluegrass music are also part of the fun.
This annual event attracts hundreds of guests each year and is one of the Schrader Center’s most popular programs. This year’s Maple Sugaring Day is sponsored by the Hess Family Foundation.
Naturalists will lead guests on interpretive hikes through the woods, stopping at learning stations along the way. Participants will hear how Native Americans discovered this “sweet water” and the methods they used to harvest it. They will be introduced to colonial methods of sap tapping and try drilling holes with old-fashioned bits and braces. They will see how wooden taps, known as spiles, were made to allow sap to flow from tree to bucket. They will learn about current pipeline techniques and watch how maple sap is boiled down into syrup, while socializing around a boiling sap evaporator.
Maple sugaring was once an integral part of American life, and the end product was the foremost sweetener until the end of the Civil War. The most common use of sap is in maple syrup, and it takes about 30-50 gallons of sap boiled down to make one gallon of syrup. Over the years modern-day technology has made the process much easier than in previous time periods.
At Maple Sugaring Day, families can explore the centuries-old history of maple sugaring from its earliest history through present day.
The program begins in the woods behind Camp Russel. Trail guides depart from the Camp Russel parking lot every half hour beginning at 9 a.m. The last group leaves at 12:30 p.m. The tour concludes with a delicious breakfast that includes pancakes, sausage, juice or coffee. Admission is $12. Members of Oglebay Institute receive a discount. Boots and appropriate outdoor clothing are recommended.
People are encouraged to register in advance because the annual event typically sells out. Reservations can be made at www.oionline.com or by calling 304-242-6855.
FUN FACTS ABOUT MAPLE SYRUP
- It takes 30-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.
- One gallon of maple syrup weighs 11 pounds.
- World production of maple syrup totals 4 million gallons annually, primarily all made during the months of March and April.
- Usually a maple tree is at least 30 years old and 12 inches in diameter before it is tapped.
- Tapping does no permanent damage, and only 10 percent of the sap is collected each year.
- Many maples have been tapped for 150 or more years.
- The maple season may last eight to 10 weeks, but sap flow is heaviest for about 10-20 days in the early spring, depending on the temperature.
- Maple syrup is graded by color, with the lighter syrup having a more delicate flavor, and the darker syrup having a stronger flavor.
- Maple syrup is rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
You can learn more about maple sugaring and enjoy a pancake breakfast with genuine maple syrup on Saturday, March 16, at Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center!