With spring finally here, it’s time to tap those trees for that sweet sweet maple syrup.
And for the first time since before the pandemic, you can finally enjoy a full-fledged festival in Oshawa, Ont., at the Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival put on by Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority or CLOCA.
“We’re super excited to be back in person and see our buildings full with people,” says Dan Hope, Manager of Conservation, Lands and Education.
Hope says since the festival started over March break and they’ve seen record-breaking numbers, as everyone wants to check out the age-old tradition of producing maple syrup. It’s the first in-person festival at Purple Woods Conservation since 2019. Last year, organizers were limited to only offering a self-guided tour for patrons.
He says hundreds of people have been flocking to the sugarbush for the sticky experience.
“Approximately we’ve had about a thousand visitors every day and we’re super pleased to be hosting our community,” he says.
And as usual, Mother Nature always has them on their toes.
This year, they started tapping back in February because of the thaw. He says with up and down temperatures, things have been unpredictable.
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“It certainly makes it challenging for planning and resources for producing maple syrup. But we’re ready to go for when Mother Nature complies,” he says.
Hope says the ideal environment would be a cooler night around minus 5 C, and a warmer day with temperatures hitting plus 5 C. But he says this year, the tree-sized issue for them was a much smaller selection of trees to tap from.
“We lost approximately 60 mature sugar maples in the derecho storm last May,” he said.
This was due to the devastating windstorm that hit the province and the region last May– the same one that saw a tornado tear through Uxbridge Township. Hope says the downed trees also damaged several sap lines.
“It’s been a lot of repairing lines and replacing lines and getting ready for tapping and the upcoming season.”
But they are ready to see lots of visitors over the next two weekends, with a range of activities for families, including lessons about where sap collection comes from.
Cara Gregory is one of the educators at the event. She says children can use historical equipment that was used back in the day for process.
“We’ve got a yoke and bucket that the children can actually put on their shoulders and learn a bit about the children’s role during settlers times,” she said.
Along with that, there are wagon rides, self-guided tours, games for the kids, and of course, maple syrup and pancakes — lots of pancakes.