Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:30 AM
By Amy Saunders
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Maple trees are often tapped in February, when daytime weather encourages the flow of sap through such trees.
Once collected, the sap is poured through a wood-fired evaporator that boils the watery liquid into sweet maple syrup.
Here's what the festivals have to offer:
Hocking Hills State Park, 19852 Rt. 664 S., Logan (740-385-8003, http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/)
times 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with hikes from noon to 4 p.m.
cost $6 for the pancake breakfast, free for other activities
A short hike through the woods also comes with lessons in science and history.
Visitors can learn how trees produce sugar (remember photosynthesis?) and see demonstrations of American Indian and pioneer techniques.
Indians collected sap in natural containers, such as hollowed-out logs, and used hot rocks to boil the substance into sugar. Similarly minded pioneers boiled sap in kettles.
Tours leave continually from Old Man's Cave visitor center.
Malabar Farm State Park, 4050 Bromfield Rd., Lucas (419-892-2782, http://www.malabarfarm.org/)
times noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and March 14-15
A horse-drawn wagon will take visitors to the park's sugar camp, where maple syrup is made the modern way.
The techniques of American Indians and pioneers will also be highlighted during a walk among the trees.
Then, visitors can enjoy bluegrass music and buy maple-flavored snacks -- including popcorn and even beef jerky.
"It's sweet, like a teriyaki sauce," said Sybil Burkey, a member of the park staff.
Dawes Arboretum, 7770 Jacksontown Rd., Newark (740-323-2355, http://www.dawesarb.org/)
times 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday
Dawes Arboretum will highlight the evolution of maple syrup on educational signs along the way to a log cabin.
There, visitors can observe the modern process and taste the result.
The arboretum doesn't produce enough syrup to sell: About 60 gallons of sap are needed to make 1 gallon of syrup, spokeswoman Laura Appleman said.
Dawes volunteers, however, enjoy the products at an appreciation breakfast.
Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware (740-363-2548, http://www.stratfordecologicalcenter.org/)
time 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, with breakfast ending at noon
cost $8, or $6 for children 2 to 12
The day will begin with a breakfast of sausage and pancakes with maple syrup.
Visitors will then take a horse-drawn wagon to the "sugarbush," where they'll learn the origins of the meal.
During a guided or self-guided hike, walkers can tap a tree for sap and watch it being cooked in an evaporator.
The center also offers other activities, such as wool spinning and candle making; and sells farm-made products, including maple syrup.