After a long winter in New England, March is welcomed heartily. That’s because March not only marks the arrival of spring, it also is the beginning of maple season.
In the spring, as the weather warms, the sap in maple trees begins to flow. That sap is collected, and then boiled into syrup at sugar houses, an Associated Press article explains. What’s exciting is that visitors who want to see the process are welcomed at local sugar houses.
Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most states canceled their statewide, coordinated event, called Maple Weekend -- the official kick-off to maple season. While that is the case again in some states this year, there are still ways to celebrate Maple Weekend. Here’s a rundown on how you can -- safely -- celebrate spring and the beginning of maple syrup season.
Maine’s Maple Sunday Weekend
Last year, the Maine Maple Producers Association was forced to cancel its Maple Sunday celebration and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, however, it’s a different story. Indeed, Maine Maple Sunday Weekend is this weekend, March 27 and 28.
“This event is critical to the success of many family businesses and producers in Maine,” Scott Dunn, president of the Maine Maple Producers Association said in a statement. “The 38th annual event will certainly look and feel a bit different due to the pandemic, but we’re ready. We have found creative ways to celebrate the event in different ways. Since each sugar house is unique in size and capacity, producers are adjusting their hours and purchase options, including curbside pick-up and online ordering.”
The association explains that to ensure the health and safety of visitors and sugar house employees alike, participating sugar houses will follow CDC guidelines. Even so, Dunn advises people “to plan ahead by checking mainemapleproducers.com or calling your local producers about their plans for the event.”
Maple Weekend In Other States
Here’s a quick rundown of Maple Weekend in other New England states. As always, when planning a trip, be sure to check in advance so you are aware of restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maple Month in Massachusetts is underway. You can use this directory from the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association to find sugar houses.
The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association announced it has canceled its annual Maple Open House Weekend again this year “to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.” However, Vermont sugar makers may hold their own individual events.
This map shows you the locations of Vermont maple sugar makers.
The New Hampshire Maple Producers Association also canceled its annual March event. However, the association does point out that March is still Maple Sugaring Month, and it encourages people to visit local sugarhouses.
A map of those houses can be found here.
The New York State Maple Producers Association has canceled its annual Maple Weekend due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the association recognizes that “certain local maple producers may have physical facilities that can safely operate with drive-through, online ordering for take-out, [and] limited-capacity safe accommodation of socially distanced customers.”
You can use this map to find New York’s maple producers.
However you plan to indulge your sweet tooth, please do so safely. Remember to keep a safe distance from others, wear a mask if directed to do so, and wash your hands frequently.