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Are you mad about maple?

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The next two weekends are going to be mere madness! That’s because the annual Mount Hope Maple Sugarin’ Madness is once again in full swing, starting Feb. 22 and running through March 1.

The maple sugaring season officially falls between Feb. 9 and March 15 at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, and between these times, there are plenty of onsite programs that teach visitors about the art of making maple syrup. The practice of maple sugaring dates back thousands of years ago, and as an adopted American tradition, the practice started in the New World with the colonists and Native Americans in the Northeast.

Naturalists at Strawberry Hill bring this practice into play and lead demonstrations and hands-on programs that enable visitors to learn all about the overall maple-making methods. From how the trees are tapped, how the sap is collected (both past and present methods), as well as the boiling process that results in the product of rich, delicious maple syrup, come out and educate your self in an experience that is truly "sappy" in a good way.

Weather permitting, Strawberry Hill leads 90-minute programs on maple sugaring throughout the latter part of February through March, every year. Programs are available for evenings, weekends and even weekday time slots (such as those for groups including schools, scouting groups and other organizations).

In addition to these special programs, Strawberry Hill is presenting two public maple sugaring demonstrations in the form of the two-weekend engagement—Mount Hope Maple Madness. Located at Camp Eder, Christian Camp and Retreat Center, Maple Madness is a family-friendly event that is the perfect blend of craft fair, educational demonstrations and delicious tastes.

Both Saturdays, Feb. 22 and March 1 start out with the most important meal of the day—breakfast. Served up with all the fixings, maple syrup atop hearty pancakes is the main component to be dished out between 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Adults pay $8, children between the ages of 3 and 12 are $4 and children under 3 eat for free. All the maple sugaring programs and demonstrations, led by the folks at Strawberry Hill, will be well underway by 9 a.m. sharp and last through the afternoon until 3 p.m. During this time, there will be many of onsite vendors and crafters set up in a warm, indoor setting. Music and food will be provided as well as all the maple sugaring supplies you will need to take part in all the onsite programs and demonstrations.

Join in the fun on both or one of the Mount Hope Maple Sugarin’ Madness weekend events. Members pay just $5 admission while non-members pay $8. Also be sure to check out all the maple goodness going on at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve as well as other seasonal events taking place onsite. Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is located at 1537 Mount Hope Road, Fairfield, and Camp Eder is located at 914 Mount Hope Road, Fairfield. For more information, go to www.strawberryhill.org.

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