Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tree Tapping Ceremony in Chataqua County 2011

(Assemblyman Andy Goodell, left, taps a maple tree at MRC Farms in Sinclairville with the assistance of co-owner Ken Morley during Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day on Friday.P-J photo by Dave Emke)

Sweet Ceremony
Maple Season Kicked Off With Tree-Tapping Event
March 12, 2011 - By Dave Emke

SINCLAIRVILLE - Though at least some of the county's 50-plus maple producers have already made syrup this month, a ceremonial tree-tapping officially began the 2011 maple season in Chautauqua County on Friday.

Assemblyman Andy Goodell was assisted by MRC Farms co-owner Ken Morley in driving a tap into a tree just outside the maple producer's sugarhouse on Water Street in Sinclairville. The ceremonial event took place at the conclusion of Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day, an event designed to promote and raise awareness about the maple industry in the county.
Prior to the ceremony, Goodell said that the maple industry is a valuable part of the county's makeup.

''The agriculture industry is very important in Chautauqua County, and the maple syrup industry is an important part of that,'' he said. ''I keep Chautauqua County maple syrup on hand not only because I like it, but when I have guests from out-of-town, it's a special treat to give them pure maple syrup made from right here in Chautauqua County.''

Maple producers from across the county were represented at the event, including Big Tree Maple from Lakewood, Fairbanks Maple from Arkwright, Maple Cider Farms from Bemus Point, Fred Croscut from Sherman, and Don Mansfield from Fredonia. Each was given an opportunity during the morning to speak about their operation and discuss the intricacies of maple production with those gathered for the event.

Croscut said that the Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region, which was well-represented at the event, is a close-knit organization that does well to promote the industry.
''I'm very proud to be a part of it as we all work together toward a common goal,'' he said. ''I enjoy the camaraderie - I don't think anybody's going to make a lot of money doing this, but it's just good to get up and keep moving.''

Morley, who co-owns MRC Farms along with Keith Carlson, said that it is a third-generation operation that has been in his family since the 1950s. It is now among the largest maple farms in Chautauqua County, with about 7,000 taps producing between 18,000 and 22,000 gallons of maple syrup during the season.

He said that it's a business that has been in his blood since he was a child, and something he has always found enjoyment in doing with his family.

''It's something we love doing,'' he said. ''I have two nephews who are a great help - they're laid off in the wintertime and need something to do.''

The maple outfit gives everyone plenty of work, bringing in approximately 100,000 gallons of sap during the four-week production season, Morley said. In addition to maple syrup, MRC Farms produces maple cream and maple sugar pieces.

Morley said that he enjoyed the opportunity Friday to meet with fellow producers and others from the community to talk about the business and share information. He also said that local producers should be proud of the maple syrup they produce and distribute to customers.
''It's all-natural and basically 100 percent organic,'' he said. ''The heck with Mrs. Butterworth.''

For more information about MRC Farms and its maple products, call Morley at 499-0481.

Chautauqua County's maple producers will be spotlighted once again during upcoming Maple Weekends, which will be held March 19-20 and March 26-27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, at both Big Tree Maple and Fairbanks Maple.

At Fairbanks Maple Products, 9265 Putnam Road in Arkwright, the Fairbankses will be collecting and boiling sap, as well as making their products for interested visitors. They also plan to offer an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast each day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children. Free samples of their products will be given out, and horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered on Sundays.

At Big Tree Maple, 2040 Holly Lane in Lakewood, the Munsees will also be collecting, boiling and making products. Pancake breakfasts are planned there as well, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at a cost of $7 for adults and $3 for children. Free samples will be offered up, and cream and sugar will be made if possible.

Festivities will also be taking place at the same time at more than 100 other maple producers in 44 other counties across the state during the 16th annual event. For more information about Maple Weekend, including a complete listing of all producers in the state who are participating, visit


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