Of course, Ohioans in the 1800s probably didn’t call their late winter maple-tree tapping a festival, but the onset of maple sap brought families together to socialize and welcome spring, just as it still does today.
After a hearty pancake breakfast and visit with the oxen, sheep and baby chicks, you can head over to the Sugar House where storyteller Jeff Jones will be dressed in his authentic 1812-era trousers and stockings. A veteran Maple Sugar Festival historian, Jeff will take you and your family to the sugar bush near the Sugar House with his old-fashioned hand drill and tomahawk and show you how early settlers and Native Americans tapped the maple trees for sap, then boiled it into sweet syrup. Jeff will explain that in the early 20th century, C.O. Hale would produce 300-400 gallons of maple syrup. This was no small feat since maple sap is 98% water and takes eight hours of boiling to make syrup; it also takes 40-plus gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
But don’t worry, you won’t need to stand around for eight hours watching sap turn into syrup. Hale Farm will have samples of real maple syrup made days before and ready for tasting at the Maple Sugar Festival.
“C.O. Hale was a true entrepreneur, he used the maple trees on the family farm to provide sap to be processed and sold. Guests at the festival will be able to learn this history first hand,” explains Jason Klein, director at Hale Farm & Village.
There is no shortage of family fun during the festival: tour historic homes and view craft and trade demonstrations such as glassblowing, spinning, weaving and candle making. The MarketPlace also will be open and stocked full of Ohio-made maple products. Unique handcrafted at Hale items also will be available to purchase.
The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 9, 10, 16, and 17. Admission for breakfast (which will be served until 3 p.m.) and all the activities is $15 for adults (13+ years), $10 for children (age 3-12), and $5 for members. You also can enjoy just the breakfast for $5. Tickets are available in advance by visiting www.halefarm.org or at the door on event days.
All aboard! Make your experience extraordinary by taking the train! The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad runs the Maple Sugar Express each event day. Tickets include the festival, breakfast and train ride and should be purchased in advance by visiting www.cvsr.com.