March, as the poet says, is the cruelest month. Not quite spring, not quite winter. Here's one way to hurry the season along by enjoying a sugarbush demo near Grayling next weekend.
Plan to spend the day at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling on Saturday, March 23, and enjoy learning about North America’s oldest agricultural product, maple sugar! Festivities begin at 10 a.m. at the Hartwick Pines Visitor Center and last until 4 p.m. Visitors to the park are invited to:
Walk into the sugar bush to help tap a maple tree
Observe the boil-down process which converts maple sap to maple syrup
Learn about the history of maple sugar making in North America
Watch the videos “Maple Sugar Farmer,” “Maple Sugaring” and “The Maple Sugaring Story”
Ask an expert about how to start making maple syrup and tap trees in your own backyard
Enjoy a pancake breakfast (all day long) courtesy of Grayling Boy Scout Troop 979
Taste maple sap and the finished maple syrup
Purchase genuine maple sugar candy and syrup
Children can participate in tapping a maple tree and will learn how to build their own "mokuk" - a birch bark container in which native peoples transported maple sugar. Making a paper mokuk replica provides a history lesson and discussion about how European settlers learned of the Native Americans’ sugaring culture.
Tree-tapping demonstrations will take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the sugar bush and some visitors will be able to help tap the maple trees.
For the second year, Grayling Boy Scout Troop 979 will provide guests with a pancake breakfast topped with Michigan maple syrup. They’ll have pancakes on the griddle all day. Donations will be accepted.
Visitors will be able to taste maple syrup and sap, smell the aroma around an outside evaporator pan, and welcome spring at this fun, educational event. Maple recipes will be available for those wishing to savor the sweetness of the day.
The Department of Natural Resources, including the Hartwick Pines Visitor Center and Logging Museum, and the Friends of Hartwick Pines State Park cosponsor this special event. The park is located at 4216 Ranger Road in Grayling. For more information, call the park at 989-348-7068 or visit www.michigan.gov/hartwickpines.
There is no fee for this event, however a Recreation Passport is required for entry to the park. That costs just $10 and gets you in to any state park, recreation area and boat launch for the year.