Editor’s Note: This story ran in 2016. The dates for the 2017 Ohio Maple Madness Tour are March 4 and 5, and 11 and 12.
It’s always sweet when winter turns into spring in Ohio, but March being Maple Month in the state makes it just that much sweeter.
Maple Madness is sponsored by the Ohio Maple Producers Association. The tour and some of the publicity for the event is partially funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
The driving trail winds through hills and flatlands throughout the state, with a large concentration in northeast Ohio. Dan Brown, Ohio Maple Producers president, said most sugarhouses and sugar camps on the trail, especially those that have helped publicize Maple Madness in their local communities, will see at least 100 or more visitors over the course of the March weekends.
Those visitors on the drive-it-yourself tour learn about maple tapping and maple production, an art that was first crafted by Native Americans in the region, from those who know it best. Experienced syrup makers will be available at each stop to give a tour of their location and answer questions.
“It’s been well-received,” Brown said. “(Maple Madness) ties into other events during the month, too. Malabar Farm (State Park) has a huge (maple) event that brings out thousands in March.”
Brown predicts more and more maple stops could potentially be added in coming years.
“We’ve added 30,000 taps in the last five years,” he said. “It’s mostly grown in the Amish community. The price of syrup has been good and it doesn’t take a lot of capital to do it.”
Maple production is a staple of the Great Lakes region. The environment and weather conditions are perfect for Ohio to be a “sweet spot” where some of the best maple syrup in the world is made, according to the association.
“The only thing the taps depend on is the change from winter to spring,” Brown said, noting that a mild winter won’t have much of an impact on the amount of maple production.
Sugarhouses will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Some stops are small, backyard businesses while others are large commercial companies. Amish stops are only open on Saturday, and some sugarhouses are only open the last two weekends of the tour.
Brown said producers can expect to see plenty of smiling faces.
“People like to come out at that time of year,” Brown said. “They’ve been cooped up all winter long and are ready for spring.”
Learn more about what it takes to make Ohio Maple products from Pleiades Maple Products, who are on the Maple Madness tour.
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