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posted: 3/10/2014 1:03 PM

MapleFest explores sweetness of spring

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  • Visitors at the free MapleFest on March 15 at Red Oak Nature Center will tap a maple tree and learn how its sap is converted into maple syrup.

      Visitors at the free MapleFest on March 15 at Red Oak Nature Center will tap a maple tree and learn how its sap is converted into maple syrup.
    Courtesy of Fox Valley Park District

 
By Jeff Long
Fox Valley Park District

Red Oak Nature Center will offer an early, sweet taste of spring Saturday, March 15, during the annual MapleFest.

Visitors can join naturalists on tours beginning hourly from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., visiting various stations in the woods to view demonstrations of how maple sap is harvested and turned into maple syrup.

Each group will tap a maple tree, then witness the process of how sap is boiled and converted into syrup. Group taste tests will follow.

"Early spring is the perfect time to collect maple sap because the days start getting warmer but the nights are still cold," said Margaret Gazdacka, facility supervisor at Red Oak. "Visitors will get to witness this age-old practice of taking sap from a tree and turning it into the syrup you use on your pancakes."

Maple-themed treats and hot beverages will be available for a small fee. Also, the event will feature items for sale from Vermont -- the maple syrup-producing capital of the world -- that include small bottles of maple syrup, lollipops and candy.

The event is free; registration is requested for groups of 10 or more.

Red Oak Nature Center is on Route 25 in North Aurora, one mile north of Route 56. For information, call Red Oak at (630) 897-1808 or visit foxvalleyparkdistrict.org, or Facebook page.

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