POTSDAM - Maple syrup producers in the north country will open their doors to the public this weekend and next for the statewide Maple Weekend celebration.
Participating farms will give tours and samples of from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on either weekend or both.
Visitors will be able to witness the syrup making process from the sap tapping and filtering processes to sap boiling and evaporating.
Michael R. Kenny, president of the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association, said the producers are preparing for the usual 200-strong crowd each weekend.
Some people have never tasted real maple syrup before or watched the process, Mr. Kenny said. There will also be samples for people to try like maple cream and candy.
Mr. Kenny said that although the winter has been cold, hes going to remain optimistic and hopeful for a good maple season.
He said the ideal temperatures for syrup season are below freezing at night andbetween 40 and 45 degrees during the day.
Weve made some syrup so far this year, not a lot, but I think were going to be ready for Maple Weekend, he said. Its been a long winter for all of us and people want to get out and get active. We see new faces every year.
Donald E. Finen, owner of the Norwood maple farm Fine-n-Dandy, said hes almost ready for the big weekend and hopes to have a successful season.
Were all busy getting ready for Maple Weekend, but the deep snow in the woods has slowed some of us with shorter legs down, he said. A lot of people are hoping for the weather to change. Warmer temperatures and sun have to get the trees thawed out.
Mr. Finen said underneath all the snow in the woods lies three to four inches of ice, which he hopes will be a benefit in the end.
Im hoping that well get warmer temperatures in the day to warm the trees and that ice will act as a refrigerator at night to keep up the perfect fluctuation, he said.
ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY
n Fine-n-Dandy, 2620 County Route 35, will be open to the public March 29 and 30.
n Parker Maple Farm, 2591 County Road 21, Canton, will be open this Saturday and Sunday.
n Sweeter Creations Sugar House, 348 Pearson Road, Madrid, will be open both days of each weekend.
n Orebed Sugar shack, 503 Ore Bed Road, DeKalb Junction, also will be open both weekends.
In an early start to the season, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County gave tours of its sugar bush at the Canton Learning Farm to 24 kindergartners from Colton-Pierrepont Central on Tuesday.
Amy L. Sands, 4H educator with Cornell, said that although Extension gives educational tours of the farm all year round, the agency doesnt usually participate in Maple Weekend.
We dont want to be in competition with the producers because thats their chance to showcase and sell their products, she said.
The children got to tap trees, learn about the syrup-making process and try a maple syrup and ice cream treat at the end of their field trip.
Video of the tour can be seen at http://wdt.me/Cornell-maple.